A History of Bingeing on Fat Enhances Cocaine Seeking and Taking

Matthew D. Puhl, Angie M. Cason, Francis H.E. Wojnicki, Rebecca L. Corwin, Patricia S. Grigson

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59 Scopus citations


Binge eating and substance dependence are disorders characterized by a loss of control over consummatory behaviors. Given the common characteristics of these two types of disorders, it is not surprising that the comorbidity between eating disorders and substance abuse disorders is high (20-40%; Conason et al., 2006). It is unknown, however, whether loss of control in one disorder predisposes an individual to loss of control in the other. The present study, therefore, used a rodent model to test whether a history of binge eating would augment subsequent responding for cocaine. Using the limited access protocol described by Corwin et al. (1998), 45 adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were maintained on one of four dietary protocols for a period of six weeks: chow only (Chow; n = 9), continuous access to an optional source of dietary fat (Ad Lib; n = 12), 1-h access to an optional source of dietary fat daily (Daily; n = 12), or 1-h access to an optional source of dietary fat on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (MWF; n = 12). All four groups also had unrestricted access to a nutritionally complete diet of chow and water. Fat-bingeing behaviors developed in the MWF rats, the group with the most restricted access to the optional fat. Thereafter, cocaine-seeking and -taking behaviors were assessed in all rats using a self-administration protocol modified from that described by Deroche-Gamonet et al. (2004), which focused on the motivation for and preoccupation with obtaining and consuming drug (assessed using a progressive ratio [PR] schedule of reinforcement) and persistence in responding for drug during periods of signaled drug non-availability (SNA). Rats with the MWF history tended to take more cocaine late in fixed ratio (FR) training, they persisted in their efforts to obtain cocaine in the face of signaled non-availability, worked harder for cocaine on a PR schedule of reinforcement, and exhibited more goal-directed behavior toward the cocaine-associated operandum. These results demonstrate a link between binge-type intake of fat and the development of drug-seeking and -taking behaviors, suggesting that a history of fat bingeing may predispose individuals to exhibit more robust "addiction-like" behaviors toward a substance of abuse. Thus, it appears that conditions promoting excessive behavior toward one substance (e.g., a palatable fatty food) beget excessive behavior toward another (e.g., cocaine).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)930-942
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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