Rationale: Among human adolescents, drug use is substantially influenced by the attitudes and behaviors of peers. Social factors also affect the drug-seeking behaviors of laboratory animals. Conditioned place preference (CPP) experiments indicate that social context can influence the degree to which rodents derive a rewarding experience from drugs of abuse. However, the precise manner by which social factors alter drug reward in adolescent rodents remains unknown. Objectives: We employed the relatively asocial BALB/cJ (BALB) mouse strain and the more prosocial C57BL/6J (B6) strain to explore whether "low" or "high" motivation to be with peers influences the effects of social context on morphine CPP (MCPP). Methods: Adolescent mice were conditioned by subcutaneous injections of morphine sulfate (0.25, 1.0, or 5.0 mg/kg). During the MCPP procedure, mice were housed in either isolation (Ih) or within a social group (Sh). Similarly, following injection, mice were conditioned either alone (Ic) or within a social group (Sc). Results: Adolescent B6 mice expressed a robust MCPP response except when subjected to Ih-Sc, which indicates that, following isolation, mice with high levels of social motivation are less susceptible to the rewarding properties of morphine when they are conditioned in a social group. By contrast, MCPP responses of BALB mice were most sensitive to morphine conditioning when subjects experienced a change in their social environment between housing and conditioning (Ih-Sc or Sh-Ic). Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that susceptibility to morphine-induced reward in adolescent mice is moderated by a complex interaction between social context and heritable differences in social motivation.
- Drug abuse
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