, Volume 235, Issue 4, pp 959–969 | Cite as

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) increase sensitivity to uncertainty by inhibition of dopamine D1 and D2 receptors

  • Kathryn G. Wallin-Miller
  • Frida Kreutz
  • Grace Li
  • Ruth I. Wood
Original Investigation



Anabolic-androgenic steroid abuse is implicated in maladaptive behaviors such as impaired cognition in humans. In a rat model, our lab has shown that testosterone decreases preference for a large/uncertain reward in probability discounting. Other studies have shown that androgens decrease dopamine D1 and D2 receptors in the nucleus accumbens shell, a region important for decision-making behavior in probability discounting. Thus, we attempted to restore selection of the large/uncertain reward in testosterone-treated rats by administering the D2 receptor agonist quinpirole or the D1 receptor agonist SKF81297 and testing probability discounting.


Adolescent male Long-Evans rats were treated chronically with high-dose testosterone (7.5 mg/kg) or vehicle (13% cyclodextrin in water), and tested for probability discounting after injections of saline, 0.1 and 0.5 mg/kg of quinpirole or SKF81297. Rats chose between a small/certain reward (1 sugar pellet, 100% probability) and a large/uncertain reward (4 pellets, decreasing probability: 100, 75, 50, 25, 0%).


Testosterone-treated rats selected the large/uncertain reward significantly less than vehicle-treated controls after saline injection. However, acute injection with 0.1 mg/kg quinpirole increased large/uncertain reward preference in testosterone-treated rats only, indicated by a testosterone × quinpirole interaction. At 0.5 mg/kg, quinpirole increased large/uncertain reward preference in all rats. Acute injection with SKF81297 at 0.1 or 0.5 mg/kg rescued large/uncertain reward preference in testosterone-treated rats by eliminating the difference between groups.


It appears that altered probability discounting behavior in testosterone-treated rats is due to both decreased D1 and D2 receptor function.


Anabolic agents Dopamine Decision making Operant behavior Food reward 



This work was funded by NIH R01-DA029613 to RIW.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn G. Wallin-Miller
    • 1
  • Frida Kreutz
    • 2
  • Grace Li
    • 3
  • Ruth I. Wood
    • 3
  1. 1.Neuroscience Graduate ProgramUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pharmaceutical BiosciencesUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Department of Integrated Anatomical SciencesKeck School of Medicine of the University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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