Characterization of the Guinea Pig Animal Model and Subsequent Comparison of the Behavioral Effects of Selective Dopaminergic Drugs and Methamphetamine

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Although not commonly used in behavior tests guinea pigs may offer subtle behavior repertoires that better mimic human activity and warrant study. To test this, 31 Hartley guinea pigs (male, 200–250 g) were evaluated in PhenoTyper cages using the video-tracking EthoVision XT 7.0 software. Results showed that guinea pigs spent more time in the hidden zone (small box in corner of cage) than the food/water zone, or arena zone. Guinea pigs exhibited thigmotaxis (a wall following strategy) and were active throughout the light and dark phases. Eating and drinking occurred throughout the light and dark phases. An injection of 0.25 mg/kg SCH23390, the dopamine D1 receptors (D1R) antagonist, produced significant decreases in time spent in the hidden zone. There were insignificant changes in time spent in the hidden zone for guinea pigs treated with 7.5 mg SKF38393 (D1R agonist), 1.0 mg/kg sulpiride (D2R antagonist), and 1.0 or 10.0 mg/kg methamphetamine. Locomotor activity profiles were unchanged after injections of saline, SKF38393, SCH23390, and sulpiride. By contrast, a single injection or repeated administration for 7 days of low-dose methamphetamine induced transient hyperactivity but this declined to baseline levels over the 22-h observation period. Guinea pigs treated with high-dose methamphetamine displayed sustained hyperactivity and travelled significantly greater distances over the circadian cycle. Subsequent 7-day treatment with high-dose methamphetamine induced motor sensitization and significant increases in total distances moved relative to single drug injections or saline controls. These results highlight the versatility and unique features of the guinea pig for studying brain–behavior interactions. Synapse 68:221–233, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

The authors have characterized guinea pigs spontaneous and drug-induced behaviors across circadian cycles. Animals were very active and lacked distinct long periods indicative of sleep. Selective dopaminergic agonist or antagonists did not alter activity profiles. Acute high-dose methamphetamine produced hyperactivity and increased total distance travelled. Chronic methamphetamine produced motor sensitization.

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