Wistar rats will self-administer cocaine directly into the nucleus accumbens shell (AcbSh), but not into the nucleus accumbens core. In human and animal literature, there is a genetic association between alcoholism and cocaine dependency. The current experiment examined whether selective breeding for high alcohol preference is also associated with greater sensitivity of the AcbSh to the reinforcing properties of cocaine. P and Wistar rats were given cocaine (0, 100, 200, 400, or 800 pmol/100 nl) to self-infuse into the AcbSh. Rats were given cocaine for the first 4 sessions (acquisition), artificial CSF for sessions 5 and 6 (extinction), and cocaine again in session 7 (reinstatement). During acquisition, P rats self-infused 200-800 pmol cocaine (59 infusions/session), whereas Wistar rats only reliably self-infused 800 pmol cocaine (38 infusions/session). Furthermore, P rats received a greater number of cocaine infusions in the 200, 400 and 800 pmol cocaine groups compared to respective Wistar groups during acquisition. Both P and Wistar rats reduced responding on the active lever when aCSF was substituted for cocaine, and reinstated responding in session 7 when cocaine was restored. However, P rats had significantly greater infusions during session 7 compared to session 4 at all concentrations of cocaine tested, whereas Wistar rats only displayed greater infusions during session 7 compared to session 4 at the 400 and 800 pmol cocaine concentrations. The present results suggest that, compared to Wistar rats, the AcbSh of P rats was more sensitive to the reinforcing effects of cocaine. The reinstatement data suggest that the AcbSh of P rats may have become sensitized to the reinforcing effects of cocaine. Overall, the findings from this study support a genetic association between high alcohol preference and greater sensitivity to the reinforcing effects of cocaine.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biological Psychiatry
- Behavioral Neuroscience