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Cognitive and behavioural effects induced by social stress plus MDMA administration in mice

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Adverse life experiences such as social stress may make an individual more vulnerable to drug addiction and mental disorders associated with drug consumption. The present work aimed to evaluate the effects of stress induced by acute social defeat combined with the administration of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) on depression-like behaviour, memory function and motor response to drug in late adolescent male mice. Two groups of mice were exposed to social defeat (SD) during four encounters with an aggressive co-specific, which took place on alternate days. Immediately after defeat, animals were treated with saline or MDMA 10mg/kg (SD+SAL and SD+MDMA). In control groups, mice were placed in a neutral cage without an opponent (Control+SAL, Control+MDMA). Corticosterone levels and temperature were measured on the last day of this phase. During the following days, the behaviour of the animals was evaluated in the tail suspension test (an animal model of depression), memory tasks (passive avoidance and object recognition) and, after administration of 5mg/kg of MDMA, in the open-field test. Exposure of adult mice to acute social defeat plus MDMA increased immobility in the tail suspension test (depression-like behaviour), produced cognitive impairment, and reduced the motor response to MDMA. An increase in corticosterone levels and a decrease of temperature were also observed. As hypothesised, a combination of social stress and consumption of MDMA increases the risk of developing mental and cognitive disorders. Our results support the idea that stress is a common contributing factor to the high rate of comorbidity between substance abuse and mental disease.

García-Pardo, M. P., Roger-Sánchez, C., Rodríguez-Arias, M., Miñarro, J., & Aguilar, M. A. (2017). Cognitive and behavioural effects induced by social stress plus MDMA administration in mice. Behavioural Brain Research, 319, 63-72. 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.11.012
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