Predictable individual differences in the initiation of cocaine self-administration by rats under extended-access conditions are dose-dependent
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Rationale: The characterization of self-administration (SA) under extended access conditions is necessary for the development of addiction models. Objective: The purposes of this experiment were to investigate: (1) dose effects on the initiation of cocaine SA under extended access conditions; (2) predictable individual differences in SA under these conditions and their relationships to neuroendocrine function and cocaine dose. Methods: After they were tested for their locomotor responses to novelty and to cocaine and trained to lever-press under a food-reinforced schedule, male Sprague-Dawley rats were allowed to SA cocaine (0.25, 0.5, 1.0, or 2.0 mg/kg per infusion, IV) by lever-pressing under a FR1 schedule during five consecutive daily 10-h sessions. Plasma corticosterone (CORT) and prolactin (PRL) were measured throughout the experiment. Results: Rats tested at higher cocaine doses more readily acquired and showed increased drug intake and more regular patterns of SA. High responders (HR) to novelty self-administered greater amounts of cocaine, acquired more rapidly and displayed more regular SA compared to LR rats, but only at the lowest cocaine dose tested (i.e., 0.25 mg/kg per infusion). HR rats also exhibited a greater high-dose escalation of SA compared to LR rats. Novelty-induced (but not cocaine-induced) locomotor activity, pre-SA plasma CORT, and pre-SA food-reinforced lever-pressing predicted SA, but only at the lowest cocaine dose tested. No differences in plasma CORT or PRL were observed between LR and HR rats. Conclusions: The present findings indicate that predictable individual differences in cocaine SA under extended access conditions are relevant only at low doses and are surmountable by increasing the available dose of cocaine.
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