Behavioural brain research

N-acetyl cysteine does not modify the sensitization of the rewarding effect of amphetamine as assessed with frequency-modulated 50-kHz vocalization in the rat.

PMID 25496785


A satisfactory pharmacological cure for addictions to psychostimulants has not yet been developed. Because of the well-known role of changes in the corticoaccumbal and corticostriatal glutamatergic system(s) in drug seeking and relapses in psychostimulant addiction, much hope is presently linked to the use of agents that restore glutamate homeostasis. In this regard, one of the most promising agents is N-acetyl cysteine, which has been shown to reverse some changes in neuroplasticity associated with psychostimulant addiction/dependence. In this study, we used the enhancement of locomotor activity and the induction of frequency-modulated 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalization (FM 50-kHz USV) to test the possible stimulant properties of N-acetyl cysteine itself in various experimental settings (acute and subchronic administration in amphetamine-naïve and amphetamine-pretreated rats) and the capacity of N-acetyl cysteine to attenuate both the rewarding effects of amphetamine and the behavioral sensitization to this stimulant in rats showing considerable differences in their susceptibility to the FM 50-kHz USV sensitization. Our data showed no stimulant properties of N-acetyl cysteine and no acute effect of the drug on the rewarding properties of amphetamine. Moreover, no effect of N-acetyl cysteine on the pre-existing sensitization of the FM 50-kHz USV and locomotor activity responses to amphetamine were observed, independent of the susceptibility of the rats to the FM 50-kHz USV sensitization. Hence, N-acetyl cysteine seems to be ineffective at reversing the neurobiological changes underlying the sensitization of these responses to amphetamine in rats.