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Rewarding Effect of Catha edulis (Khat) and the Sex Differences to the Responses in Swiss Albino Mice

Authors Limenie AA, Tolessa T, Makonnen E, Seifu D

Received 12 December 2019

Accepted for publication 11 March 2020

Published 20 March 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 279—289


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Abebaye Aragaw Limenie, 1 Tesfaye Tolessa, 1 Eyasu Makonnen, 2 Daniel Seifu 3

1Department of Physiology, Addis Ababa University, College of Health Sciences, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; 2Department of Pharmacology, Addis Ababa University, College of Health Sciences, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; 3Department of Biochemistry, Addis Ababa University, College of Health Sciences, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Correspondence: Abebaye Aragaw Limenie
Department Medical Physiology, Addis Ababa University, P.O. Box 9086, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Background: Burden of substance abuse is becoming a worldwide problem. One of the psychostimulant plants widely consumed in Ethiopia and other East African countries is Catha edulis Forsk (khat). Most of the users claim that its stimulatory effect is the determinant factor that makes them use. However, its rewarding and reinforcing potential and variation between sexes have not been investigated. This study was, therefore, designed to measure the rewarding effect of khat extract (ke) in the addiction mice model of both sexes.
Materials and Methods: Forty-eight Swiss albino mice of both sexes (age 6– 7 weeks) weighing 21– 33 gm were used. The mice were conditioned to ke (100 mg/kg, 200 mg/kg and 300 mg/kg b.w). The control group was conditioned to tween 80 (2%, v/v) in distilled water. The reinforcing effect of khat was evaluated using the conditioned place preference paradigm. The classical pairing to the extract was made using the place conditioning box. Post-conditioning tests have been conducted four times and the average values were taken for analysis using SPSS version 21.0.
Results: Time spent in the khat-paired compartment was significantly higher for mice conditioned to ke 200 mg/kg (p< 0.05) and ke 300 mg/kg (p< 0.001). The rewarding effect of khat was strong in females at a higher dose when compared to the same sex of mice conditioned to the vehicle (p< 0.001) or male mice conditioned to the same dose of khat extract (p< 0.05). Repeated administration increased khat rewarding sensitization at all doses. Though the crude khat extract did not affect the food consumption and total body weight, water consumption was significantly less in mice received ke 100 mg/kg (p< 0.01), where it was significantly higher in mice received ke 300 mg/kg (p< 0.01). Sniffing (p< 0.05) and climbing (p< 0.05) psychomotor activities of mice were also affected by the crude khat extract.
Conclusion: Mice showed place conditioning to khat extract, and the response was significantly higher in female mice. The crude khat extract did not affect food consumption and total body weight. The mechanisms behind the rewarding response of khat extract and sexual differences should be investigated.

Keywords: conditioned place preference, khat, place conditioning score, time spent in the khat paired compartment

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