The effects of maternal separation on adult methamphetamine self-administration, extinction, reinstatement, and MeCP2 immunoreactivity in the nucleus accumbens

Candace R. Lewis, Kelsey Staudinger, Lena Scheck, Michael Olive

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

The maternal separation (MS) paradigm is an animal model of early life stress. Animals subjected to MS during the first 2 weeks of life display altered behavioral and neuroendocrinological stress responses as adults. MS also produces altered responsiveness to and self-administration (SA) of various drugs of abuse including cocaine, ethanol, and amphetamine. However, no studies have yet examined the effects of MS on methamphetamine (METH) SA. This study was performed to examine the effects of MS on the acquisition of METH SA, extinction, and reinstatement of METH-seeking behavior in adulthood. Given the known influence of early life stress and drug exposure on epigenetic processes, we also investigated group differences in levels of the epigenetic marker methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) core. Long-Evans pups and dams were separated on postnatal days (PND) 2-14 for either 180 (MS180) or 15 min (MS15). Male offspring were allowed to acquire METH SA (0.05 mg/kg/infusion) in 15 2-h daily sessions starting at PND67, followed by extinction training and cue-induced reinstatement of METH-seeking behavior. Rats were then assessed for MeCP2 levels in the NAc core by immunohistochemistry. The MS180 group self-administered significantly more METH and acquired SA earlier than the MS15 group. No group differences in extinction or cue-induced reinstatement were observed. MS15 rats had significantly elevated MeCP2-immunoreactive cells in the NAc core as compared to MS180 rats. Together, these data suggest that MS has lasting influences on METH SA as well as epigenetic processes in the brain reward circuitry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 55
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Volume4
Issue numberJUN
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Early life stress
  • Epigenetics
  • Maternal separation
  • Mecp2
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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