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Medical University of South Carolina’s
Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH)
Faculty Career Development K12 Program in Neurosciences 

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  Recent publications from MUSC BIRCWH Scholars

Sex differences in methamphetamine seeking in rats: Impact of oxytocin.
Brittney M. Cox, Amy B. Young, Ronald E. See, Carmela M. Reichel. (2013).
Psychoneuroendocrinology, Oct;38(10):2343-53. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.05.005. Epub 2013 Jun 12.
PMCID: PMC3775911

Previous evidence in an animal model of drug self-administration and drug seeking showed that acute oxytocin decreased methamphetamine (meth) seeking in male rats, suggesting potential clinical efficacy for the treatment of psychostimulant addiction. However, based on the well-established role of oxytocin in reproduction and pair bond formation, it is important to know how this effect extrapolates to females. Here, we tested whether oxytocin (1 mg/kg, IP) would decrease meth seeking in female rats across various stages of the estrous cycle (Experiment 1). Freely cycling Long Evans female rats self-administered meth (IV) in 2-h daily sessions, followed by daily extinction sessions. Following extinction, rats received oxytocin (0, 0.3, or 1 mg/kg, IP) 30 min before a meth priming injection (1 mg/kg, IP) to assess reinstatement of meth seeking. Next, we examined the effects of oxytocin on motivated meth- and sucrose-taking and seeking in male and female rats. In separate experiments, males and females self-administered meth (Experiment 2) or sucrose (Experiment 3) until responding was stabilized along a fixed ratio (FR) 5 schedule of reinforcement. Subsequently, rats received either oxytocin or vehicle prior to self-administration along a progressive ratio (PR) schedule of reinforcement. Rats were subsequently tested for cue-, meth-, and stress-induced reinstatement after pretreatment with oxytocin or vehicle. While oxytocin reduced meth seeking in females, we found that estrous cycle stage (as determined from vaginal cytology) did not influence meth-primed reinstatement or the ability of oxytocin to decrease reinstatement of meth seeking. Oxytocin reduced PR responding for meth only in females. Females responded more than males during cue-induced reinstatement of meth and sucrose seeking, and oxytocin reduced this responding only in meth females. In both sexes, oxytocin attenuated meth seeking in response to a meth prime and yohimbine (a pharmacological stressor). The results suggest that oxytocin may have efficacy as a treatment of meth addiction in both sexes; however, females may show greater response to oxytocin treatment for the prevention of relapse.    

Well-being and the risk of depression under stress.
Grant F, Guille C, Sen S. (2013)
PLoS One. 2013 Jul 1;8(7):e67395. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067395.
PMCID: PMC3698120

Abstract:  Improving our ability to accurately predict individual risk for depression would have profound public health benefits. While there has been growing interest in understanding the relation between measures of positive emotion, such as well-being, and depression, it is not clear whether low well-being is an independent predictor of short term depression risk. We assessed whether low well-being is a risk factor for depressive symptoms. Medical internship is a well-established period of stress when levels of depressive symptoms increase dramatically. 1621 individuals beginning medical internship were assessed for well-being, depressive symptoms, and a set of psychological and demographic traits prior to starting internship year and again for depressive symptoms at 3 month intervals during the year. Low subjective well-being significantly predicted increased depression symptom scores during the stress of medical internship and accounted for individual level inter-variability in depression symptom trends across time. Assessing well-being may have utility in predicting future depression risk.

A comparison of trauma profiles among individuals with prescription opioid, nicotine or cocaine dependence.
Lawson, KM, Back, SE, Hartwell, KJ, Moran-Santa Maria, M, Brady, KT. (2013)
Am J Addict, 22(2):127-31.
PMCID: PMC3681508

Abstract: Exposure to traumatic events is common among individuals with substance use disorders. Little is known, however, about the trauma histories among individuals with various types of addiction. The present study compared the trauma histories (general, sexual, physical and emotional) of non-treatment seeking outpatients dependent on prescription opioids (n = 41), nicotine (n = 87) or cocaine (n = 73). The Life Stressor Checklist-Revised (LSC-R) was completed by participants to assess childhood and adult trauma. The findings revealed that all three groups endorsed high levels of trauma exposure, with 96.5% of the entire sample experiencing at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. The prescription opiate group experienced a greater number of general and total traumas than the nicotine group. However, no group differences in the number of emotional, physical, or sexual traumas were revealed. The prescription opiate group reported a younger age of first traumatic event than the cocaine group, and was significantly more likely to report childhood traumatic events than both the cocaine and nicotine groups. The findings provide clinically relevant information that may help improve screening, interventions, and preventative efforts.

MUSC BIRCWH publications and abstracts
Click here to view a pdf listing publications stemming from the BIRCWH  

Updated 10.2013

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Aimee L. McRae-Clark,
PharmD, BCPP

Clinical Neuroscience Division

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 Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences