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Propranolol Prevents Cocaine-Associated Memory Retrieval

Rat study shows propranolol provides robust, long-lasting memory retrieval deficit

MONDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- The common β-blocker propranolol has been shown to prevent retrieval of cocaine-associated memories in addiction-models in rats, according to an experimental study published in the August issue of Neuropsychopharmacology.

James M. Otis, O.D., and Devin Mueller, Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, investigated the role of β-adrenergic receptor activation in the retrieval of cocaine-associated memory. Using a conditioned place preference (CPP), rats were conditioned to associate one chamber with cocaine, but not another.

The investigators found that the retrieval of a cocaine-associated CPP was prevented when propranolol, but not saline, was administered before a CPP trial. The retrieval deficit was strong and long lasting, with no re-emergence of CPP during a test for spontaneous recovery after 14 days, and there was no recurrence after a priming injection of cocaine. Retrieval was not affected by the peripheral β -adrenergic receptor agonist sotalol.

"Our findings support the use of propranolol, a commonly prescribed β-blocker, as an adjunct to exposure therapy for the treatment of addiction by preventing retrieval of drug-associated memories during and long after treatment, and by providing protection against relapse," the authors write.

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