Cocaine, as an indirect dopamine agonist, induces selective behavioral and physiological events such as hyperlocomotion and dopamine release. These changes are considered as consequences of cocaine-induced molecular adaptation such as CREB and c-Fos. Recently, methanolic extracts from licorice was reported to decrease cocaine-induced dopamine release and c-Fos expression in the nucleus accumbens. In the present study, we investigated the effects of liquiritigenin (LQ), a main compound of licorice, on acute cocaine-induced behavioral and molecular changes in rats. LQ attenuated acute cocaine-induced hyperlocomotion in dose-dependent manner. In addition, LQ inhibited CREB phosphorylation and c-Fos expression in the striatum and the nucleus accumbens induced by acute cocaine. Results provide strong evidence that LQ effectively attenuates the acute behavioral effects of cocaine exposure and prevents the induction of selective neuroadaptive changes in dopaminergic signaling pathways. Further investigation of LQ from licorice extract might provide a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of cocaine addiction.
Keywords: Liquiritigenin, cocaine, hyperlocomotion, CREB, c-Fos, nucleus accumbens, striatum, postsynaptic D1/D2-like dopamine, postsynaptic neuronal
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