Indexed on: 22 Mar '07Published on: 22 Mar '07Published in: European Journal of Pharmacology
Converging evidence points to adolescence as a critical period for the onset of a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and drug abuse. Spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) are generally considered to be a suitable genetic model for the study of ADHD, since they display hyperactivity, impulsivity, poorly sustained attention, cognitive deficits and increased novelty seeking. Despite the high prevalence of ADHD among adolescents, studies using SHR have mainly been performed on adult animals. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of acute intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of the cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN 55,212-2 (0.25-2.5 mg/kg) on locomotor activity and anxiety-like behavior in male adolescent and adult SHR and Wistar rats using the open field and elevated plus-maze tests. WIN 55,212-2 at doses of 0.25 and 1.25 mg/kg (i.p.) selectively promoted locomotor stimulation in adolescent SHR in the open field, but not in adult SHR or Wistar rats (regardless of age). The effect of WIN 55,212-2 (0.25 mg/kg, i.p.) on locomotion of adolescent SHR was reversed by pretreatment with the selective cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist AM 251 (0.25 mg/kg, i.p.). Moreover, although the present doses of WIN 55,212-2 had no effect on anxiety-related behaviors in any of the animal groups evaluated in the open field (central locomotion) or elevated plus-maze (time and entries in open arms), the highest dose of WIN 55,212-2 tested (2.5 mg/kg, i.p.) significantly decreased the number of closed-arm entries (an index of locomotor activity) of adolescent rats of both the Wistar and SHR strains in the elevated plus-maze. The present results indicate strain- and age-related effects of cannabinoids on locomotor activity in rats, extending the notion that adolescence and ADHD represent risk factors for the increased sensitivity to the effects of drugs.