Operant psychostimulant self-administration in a rat model of depression

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Depression and psychostimulant addiction are co-morbid conditions; depression is a significant risk factor for psychostimulant abuse, and the rate of depression in drug addicts is higher than in the general population. Despite the prevalence of this comorbidity, there are few animal models examining psychostimulant abuse behaviors in depression. We have shown previously that while rats selectively bred for depression-like phenotypes (SwLo) have blunted mesolimbic dopamine (DA) signaling and locomotor responses to dopaminergic drugs, they voluntarily administer excessive amounts of psychostimulants compared to normal or depression-resistant (SwHi) rats in oral consumption paradigms. To determine whether this increased drug intake by depression-sensitive rats extends to operant self-administration, we assessed fixed ratio-1, progressive ratio, extinction, and reinstatement responding for cocaine and amphetamine in SwLo and SwHi rats. Contrary to the oral consumption results, we found that the SwHi rats generally responded more for both cocaine and amphetamine than the SwLo rats in several instances, most notably in the progressive ratio and reinstatement tests. Food-primed reinstatement of food seeking was also elevated in SwHi rats. These results provide further insight into the neurobiology of depression and addiction comorbidity and caution that oral and operant psychostimulant self-administration paradigms can yield different, and this case, opposite results.


▸ We tested psychostimulant responses in a rat model of depression (SwLo rats). ▸ Amphetamine-induced locomotion is attenuated in SwLo rats. ▸ SwLo rats have a lower breakpoint on a PR schedule of self-administration. ▸ Drug-primed reinstatement is reduced in SwLo rats.

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