, Volume 215, Issue 3, pp 493–504 | Cite as

Role of individual and developmental differences in voluntary cocaine intake in rats

  • Nicole L. Schramm-Sapyta
  • Marty C. Cauley
  • Dalene K. Stangl
  • Susan Glowacz
  • K. Amy Stepp
  • Edward D. Levin
  • Cynthia M. Kuhn
Original Investigation



Early-onset drug taking is associated with increased likelihood of addiction, but it is unclear whether early onset is causal in development of addiction. Many other factors are associated with increased risk of addiction and also promote early intake. Here, a rodent model is used to explore the causality of early onset in development of self-administration and addiction-like behavior and to examine factors that promote self-administration.


We used cocaine self-administration to examine drug taking and addiction-like behavior in adolescent and adult rats a priori characterized for their locomotor responses to novelty and cocaine and behavior in the light–dark task.


Adolescent animals initially sought more cocaine than adults. However, as the adolescents matured, their intake fell and they did not differ from adults in terms of unreinforced lever-pressing, extinction or reinstatement behavior. For both age groups, self-administration was positively correlated with the locomotor response to novelty, the locomotor response to cocaine, and with time in light in the light–dark task. The rats that were insensitive to cocaine's locomotor effects and that spent the least time in light in the light–dark task sought the least cocaine, appearing to be “protected” from the reinforcing effects of cocaine. There was no difference between the two age groups in appearance of this “protected” phenotype.


These results suggest that early onset of drug taking may promote increased use, but does not promote progression to addiction-like behavior. Furthermore, protective factors, such as innate anxiety and insensitivity to cocaine's pharmacological effects, function across developmental stages.


Cocaine Self-administration Adolescent Rat Anxiety Locomotion Novelty Regression 



The authors wish to thank Reynold Francis for assistance with corticosterone assays, and Ann Petro, Susan Slade, and Cori Wells for assistance with surgeries. This work was funded by NIDA, DA020729 to NLSS and NIDA 019114 to CMK.

Supplementary material

213_2011_2216_MOESM1_ESM.doc (47 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 44.5 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole L. Schramm-Sapyta
    • 1
  • Marty C. Cauley
    • 1
  • Dalene K. Stangl
    • 2
  • Susan Glowacz
    • 1
  • K. Amy Stepp
    • 1
  • Edward D. Levin
    • 1
  • Cynthia M. Kuhn
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Statistical ScienceDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Pharmacology and Cancer BiologyDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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