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Editorial |

Translational Research on Incubation of Cocaine Craving ONLINE FIRST

Xuan Li, PhD1; Marco Venniro, PhD1; Yavin Shaham, PhD1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Behavioral Neuroscience Research Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Psychiatry. Published online September 07, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2110
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In 1986, Gawin and Kleber1 proposed that cue-induced cocaine craving increases progressively during early abstinence and remains high during extended periods. However, subsequent inpatient clinical studies in the late 1980s have shown that baseline (nonprovoked) craving for cocaine decreases progressively during the first month of abstinence.2 Consequently, the hypothesis by Gawin and Kleber1 was not empirically tested in clinical studies on the time course of cue-induced cocaine craving during abstinence and was largely forgotten. More than a decade later, and largely independent of the early clinical literature, studies using animal models of relapse3 have shown that the rat’s drug-seeking response to cues associated with cocaine (Figure)47 and other abused drugs8 increases progressively after cessation of drug self-administration, a phenomenon termed incubation of drug craving.7

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Figure.
Incubation of Cocaine Craving in Rats

A, Number (mean [SEM]) of nonreinforced lever presses during the extinction tests in the presence of cocaine-associated contexts and cues during 60 days of forced abstinence from intravenous self-administration of cocaine. B, Number (mean [SEM]) of nonreinforced lever presses during the extinction tests in the presence of cocaine-associated contexts and cues during 180 days of forced abstinence from intravenous self-administration of cocaine. During the extinction tests, the rats were reexposed to the cocaine-associated contexts and cues but lever presses did not lead to the delivery of cocaine infusions.

aDifferent from day 1 (P < .05).4,6

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