Fischer 344 (F344) and Lewis (LEW) rats differ in physiological regulation of the limbic-hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (LHPA) axis, such that F344 rats exhibit greater LHPA axis responses to a variety of stimuli. Furthermore, LHPA axis activity has been implicated in the development of sensitization to abused drugs, and F344 rats exhibit greater behavioral sensitization to psychostimulants. Accordingly, we hypothesized that there may be some overlap between the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie these strain differences in LHPA axis activity and in behavioral sensitization to psychostimulants. We examined the effects of acute and repeated methamphetamine (4 mg/kg) treatments on the regulation of hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors (GR mRNA) and mineralocorticoid receptors (MR mRNA) in F344 and LEW rats. Our results showed that acute treatment with methamphetamine (MAP) does not alter the level of expression of GR or MR mRNA in both strains. However, repeated treatments with MAP decreased the expression of hippocampal GR, but not MR mRNA specifically in F344 rats. The same repeated treatments had no effect on either GR or MR mRNA in LEW rats. This selective MAP regulation of the level of expression of hippocampal GR mRNA in F344 suggests that these receptors may play a role in the development of behavioral sensitization to MAP in this strain. The lack of alteration in hippocampal GR mRNA in LEW rats suggests that plasticity of hippocampal GR may not be critical for the development of behavioral sensitization to MAP in this strain.
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