Cocaine use is associated with high levels of impulsive choice (greater discounting of delayed rewards) in humans, but the cause/effect relationships between cocaine use and impulsive choice are not fully understood. In previous work, we found that both experimenter- and self-administration of fixed quantities of cocaine caused lasting increases in impulsive choice in rats. The present study extended these findings by taking into account baseline impulsive choice prior to self-administration, and by allowing rats free access to cocaine. Male Long-Evans rats were trained in a delay discounting task in which they made discrete-trial choices between small immediate and large delayed food rewards. Half of the rats were then implanted with intravenous catheters and, following recovery, allowed to self-administer cocaine HCl (1.0 mg/kg/infusion) in 6 hour sessions over 14 days. Control rats orally self-administered a sucrose solution under similar conditions. Upon completion of self-administration training, rats remained abstinent for 3 weeks before retesting in the delay discounting task. Cocaine and control groups did not differ prior to self-administration, but afterward, the cocaine group showed greater impulsive choice (fewer choices of large, delayed rewards) than controls. Additional analyses revealed that the effects of cocaine on impulsive choice were intake-dependent; rats classified as “low intake” did not differ from controls, whereas rats classified as “high intake” were significantly more impulsive than both controls and their pre-cocaine baseline. These findings are consistent with the idea that cocaine-induced, pharmacologically based neural adaptations promote the development of impulsive decision making.
Decision-making; impulsivity; cocaine; delay discounting; intertemporal choice; rat
Single and repeated sports-related mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), also referred to as concussion, can result in chronic post-concussive syndrome (PCS), neuropsychological and cognitive deficits, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). However PCS is often difficult to diagnose using routine clinical, neuroimaging or laboratory evaluations, while CTE currently only can be definitively diagnosed postmortem. We sought to develop an animal model to simulate human repetitive concussive head injury for systematic study. In this study, mice received single or multiple head impacts by a stereotaxic impact device with a custom-made rubber tip-fitted impactor. Dynamic changes in MRI, neurobiochemical markers (Tau hyperphosphorylation and glia activation in brain tissues) and neurobehavioral functions such as anxiety, depression, motor function and cognitive function at various acute/subacute (1-7 day post-injury) and chronic (14-60 days post-injury) time points were examined. To explore the potential biomarkers of rCHI, serum levels of total Tau (T-Tau) and phosphorylated Tau (P-Tau) were also monitored at various time points. Our results show temporal dynamics of MRI consistent with structural perturbation in the acute phase and neurobiochemical changes (P-Tau and GFAP induction) in the subacute and chronic phase as well as development of chronic neurobehavioral changes, which resemble those observed in mTBI patients.
Poor decision making and elevated risk taking, particularly during adolescence, have been strongly linked to drug use; however the causal relationships among these factors are not well understood. To address these relationships, a rat model (the Risky Decision-making Task; RDT) was used to determine whether individual differences in risk taking during adolescence predict later propensity for cocaine self-administration and/or whether cocaine self-administration causes alterations in risk taking. In addition, the RDT was used to determine how risk taking is modulated by dopamine signaling, particularly in the striatum. Results from these experiments indicated that greater risk taking during adolescence predicted greater intake of cocaine during acquisition of self-administration in adulthood, and that adult cocaine self-administration in turn caused elevated risk taking that was present following 6 weeks of abstinence. Greater adolescent risk taking was associated with lower striatal D2 receptor mRNA expression, and pharmacological activation of D2/3 receptors in the ventral, but not dorsal, striatum induced a decrease in risk taking. These findings indicate that the relationship between elevated risk taking and cocaine self-administration is bi-directional, and that low striatal D2 receptor expression may represent a predisposing factor for both maladaptive decision making and cocaine use. Furthermore, these findings suggest that striatal D2 receptors represent a therapeutic target for attenuating maladaptive decision making when choices include risk of adverse consequences.
adolescence; behavioral science; cognition; D2/3 receptor; decision-making; dopamine; psychopharmacology; risk taking; adolescence; risk taking; cocaine; self-administration; dopamine D2 receptor; decision-making
Chronic pain is becoming a more common medical diagnosis and is especially prevalent in older individuals. As such, prescribed use of opioids is on the rise, even though the efficacy for pain management in older individuals is unclear.
Thus the present preclinical study assessed the effectiveness of chronic fentanyl administration to produce antinociception in aging rats (16, 20, 24 months).
Animals were tested in a thermal sensitivity procedure known to involve neural circuits implicated in chronic pain in humans. Sensitivity to heat and cold thermal stimulation was assessed during 28 days of fentanyl administration (1.0 mg/kg/day), and 28 days of withdrawal.
Fentanyl resulted in decreased thermal sensitivity to heat but not cold stimulation indicated by more time spent in the hot compartment relative to time spent in the cold or neutral compartments. Unlike previous findings using a hot-water tail withdrawal procedure, tolerance did not develop to the antinociceptive effects of fentanyl over a 28-day period of drug administration. The oldest animals were least sensitive, and the youngest animals most sensitive to the locomotor-stimulating effects of fentanyl. The effect on the antinociceptive response to fentanyl in the oldest group of rats was difficult to interpret due to profound changes in the behavior of saline-treated animals.
Overall, aging modifies the behavioral effects of opioids, a finding that may inform future studies for devising appropriate treatment strategies.
Aging; Antinociception; Chronic administration; Geriatric pharmacotherapy; Pain; Thermal sensitivity; Tolerance; Withdrawal
Desired serotonin 5HT2 receptor pharmacology for treatment of psychoses is 5HT2A antagonism and/or 5HT2C agonism. No selective 5HT2A antagonist has been approved for psychosis and the only approved 5HT2C agonist (for obesity) also activates 5HT2A and 5HT2B receptors, which can lead to clinical complications. Studies herein tested the hypothesis that a dual-function 5HT2A antagonist/5HT2C agonist that does not activate 5HT2B receptors would be suitable for development as an antipsychotic drug, without liability for weight gain.
The novel compounds (+)- and (−)-trans-4-(4′-chlorophenyl)-N,N-dimethyl-2-aminotetralin (p-Cl-PAT) were synthesized, characterized in vitro for affinity and functional activity at human 5HT2 receptors, and administered by intraperitoneal (i.p.) and oral (gavage) routes to mice in behavioral paradigms that assessed antipsychotic efficacy and effects on feeding behavior.
(+)- and (−)-p-Cl-PAT activated 5HT2C receptors, with (+)-p-Cl-PAT being 12-times more potent, consistent with its higher affinity across 5HT2 receptors. Neither p-Cl-PAT enantiomer activated 5HT2A or 5HT2B receptors at concentrations up to 300-times greater than their respective affinity (Ki), and (+)-p-Cl-PAT was shown to be a 5HT2A competitive antagonist. When administered i.p. or orally, (+)- and (−)-p-Cl-PAT attenuated the head-twitch response (HTR) in mice elicited by the 5HT2 agonist (−)-2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI) and reduced intake of a highly palatable food in non-food-deprived mice, with (+)-p-Cl-PAT being more potent across behavioral assays.
The novel in vitro pharmacology of (+)-p-Cl-PAT (5HT2A antagonism/5HT2C agonism without activation of 5HT2B) translated in vivo to an orally-active drug candidate with preclinical efficacy to treat psychoses without liability for weight gain.
anorectic response; antipsychotic drug; binge eating DOI head-twitch response; schizophrenia; serotonin (5HT) 2
Recently, we showed that administration of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor enalapril to aged rats attenuated muscle strength decline and mitigated apoptosis in the gastrocnemius muscle. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible mechanisms underlying the muscle-protective effects of enalapril. We also sought to discern the effects of enalapril mediated by nitric oxide (NO) from those independent of this signaling molecule. Eighty-seven male Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rats were randomly assigned to receive enalapril (n = 23), the NO synthase (NOS) inhibitor NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME; n = 22), enalapril + l-NAME (n = 19), or placebo (n = 23) from 24 to 27 months of age. Experiments were performed on the tibialis anterior muscle. Total NOS activity and the expression of neuronal, endothelial, and inducible NOS isoforms (nNOS, eNOS, and iNOS) were determined to investigate the effects of enalapril on NO signaling. Transcript levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α) were assessed to explore actions of enalapril on inflammation and mitochondrial biogenesis, respectively. Protein expression of energy-sensing and insulin signaling mediators, including protein kinase B (Akt-1), phosphorylated Akt-1 (pAkt-1), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), AMP-activated protein kinase subunit alpha (AMPKα), phosphorylated AMPKα (pAMPKα), and the glucose transporter GLUT-4, was also determined. Finally, the generation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was quantified in subsarcolemmal (SSM) and intermyofibrillar (IFM) mitochondria. Enalapril increased total NOS activity, which was prevented by l-NAME co-administration. eNOS protein content was enhanced by enalapril, but not by enalapril + l-NAME. Gene expression of iNOS was down-regulated by enalapril either alone or in combination with l-NAME. In contrast, protein levels of nNOS were unaltered by treatments. The mRNA abundance of TNF-α was reduced by enalapril relative to placebo, with no differences among any other group. PCG-1α gene expression was unaffected by enalapril and lowered by enalapril + l-NAME. No differences in protein expression of Akt-1, pAkt-1, AMPKα, pAMPKα, or GLUT-4 were detected among groups. However, mTOR protein levels were increased by enalapril compared with placebo. Finally, all treatment groups displayed reduced SSM, but not IFM H2O2 production relative to placebo. Our data indicate that enalapril induces a number of metabolic adaptations in aged skeletal muscle. These effects result from the concerted modulation of NO and angiotensin II signaling, rather than from a dichotomous action of enalapril on the two pathways. Muscle protection by enalapril administered late in life appears to be primarily mediated by mitigation of oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory signaling.
Aging; Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms; Mitochondria; mTOR; Glucose tolerance; l-NAME; Inflammation; ACE inhibitors
There are seemingly conflicting data in the literature regarding the role of serotonin (5-HT) 5-HT2C receptors in the mouse head-twitch response (HTR) elicited by the hallucinogenic 5-HT2A/2B/2C receptor agonist 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI). Namely, both 5-HT2C receptor agonists and antagonists, regarding 5-HT2C receptor-mediated Gq-phospholipase C (PLC) signaling, reportedly attenuate the HTR response. The present experiments tested the hypothesis that both classes of 5-HT2C receptor compounds could attenuate the DOI-elicited-HTR in a single strain of mice, C57Bl/6J. The expected results were considered in accordance with ligand functional selectivity. Commercially-available 5-HT2C agonists (CP 809101, Ro 60-0175, WAY 161503, mCPP, and 1-methylpsilocin), novel 4-phenyl-2-N,N-dimethyl-aminotetralin (PAT)-type 5-HT2C agonists (with 5-HT2A/2B antagonist activity), and antagonists selective for 5-HT2A (M100907), 5-HT2C (SB-242084), and 5-HT2B/2C (SB-206553) receptors attenuated the DOI-elicited-HTR. In contrast, there were differential effects on locomotion across classes of compounds. The 5-HT2C agonists and M100907 decreased locomotion, SB-242084 increased locomotion, SB-206553 resulted in dose-dependent biphasic effects on locomotion, and the PATs did not alter locomotion. In vitro molecular pharmacology studies showed that 5-HT2C agonists potent for attenuating the DOI-elicited-HTR also reduced the efficacy of DOI to activate mouse 5-HT2C receptor-mediated PLC signaling in HEK cells. Although there were differences in affinities of a few compounds at mouse compared to human 5-HT2A or 5-HT2C receptors, all compounds tested retained their selectivity for either receptor, regardless of receptor species. Results indicate that 5-HT2C receptor agonists and antagonists attenuate the DOI-elicited-HTR in C57Bl/6J mice, and suggest that structurally diverse 5-HT2C ligands result in different 5-HT2C receptor signaling outcomes compared to DOI.
Head-twitch response; DOI; Hallucinogen; C57Bl/6J; Mouse serotonin 2C receptor; Mouse serotonin 2A receptor; Functional selectivity
Although cocaine is often abused in social situations, very few animal studies examine the effects of cocaine in the context of social behavior.
This review highlights studies investigating the behavioral effects of cocaine in the context of social housing conditions using nonhuman primates. In addition, this review presents recent findings examining the effects of self-administering cocaine on social behavior and the effects of manipulations hypothesized to be stressful or enriching on the interactions between cocaine reinforcement and social rank. The following dependent variables are examined: 1) cocaine-induced changes in social behavior and 2) cocaine self-administration in cynomolgus monkeys of varying social ranks. The independent variables examined include several environmental and pharmacological manipulations.
The studies reviewed here indicate that several variables can differentially affect cocaine self-administration when studied in a social context, rather than in individually housed animals. These variables include the social rank and sex of the individual, drug history, the nature of the “fear”-inducing manipulation, and the reliability of cortisol as an appropriate measure of “stress.” While the inclusion of socially housed animals necessitates larger sample sizes, animal models incorporating social behavior are more homologous to the human condition and should be implemented when possible.
aggression; submission; social interactions; social consequences; social rank; cocaine self-administration; nonhuman primates
Two primary animal models persist for assessing hallucinogenic potential of novel compounds and for examining the pharmacological and neurobiological substrates underlying the actions of classical hallucinogens, the two-lever drug discrimination procedure and the drug-induced head-twitch response (HTR) in rodents. The substituted amphetamine hallucinogen, serotonin 2 (5-HT2) receptor agonist, 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI) has emerged as the most popular pharmacological tool used in HTR studies of hallucinogens. Synthesizing classic, recent, and relatively overlooked findings, addressing ostensibly conflicting observations, and considering contemporary theories in receptor and behavioural pharmacology, this review provides an up-to-date and comprehensive synopsis of DOI and the HTR model, from neural mechanisms to utility for understanding psychiatric diseases. Also presented is support for the argument that, although both the two-lever drug discrimination and the HTR models in rodents are useful for uncovering receptors, interacting proteins, intracellular signalling pathways, and neurochemical processes affected by DOI and related classical hallucinogens, results from both models suggest they are not reporting hallucinogenic experiences in animals.
5-HT2; serotonin; DOI; HTR; model; 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine; phenylisopropylamine; psychedelic; hallucinogen
There are contradictory data regarding older individuals’ sensitivity to pain stimulation and opioid administration. Adult (12–16 months; n = 10) and aged (27–31 months; n = 7) male F344xBN rats were tested in a thermal sensitivity procedure where the animal chooses to remain in one of two compartments with floors maintained at various temperatures ranging from hot (45°C) through neutral (30°C) to cold (15°C). Effects of morphine were determined for three temperature comparisons (ie, hot/neutral, cold/neutral, and hot/cold). Aged rats were more sensitive to cold stimulation during baseline. Morphine produced antinociception during hot thermal stimulation, but had no effect on cold stimulation. The antinociceptive (and locomotor-altering) effects of morphine were attenuated in aged rats. These data demonstrate age-related differences in baseline thermal sensitivity and responsiveness to opioids. Based on behavioral and physiological requirements of this procedure, it is suggested that thermal sensitivity may provide a relevant animal model for the assessment of pain and antinociception.
Opioids; Chronic pain; Operant testing; Thermal preference; Animal models
Caloric restriction and physical exercise have proven beneficial against age-associated changes in body composition and declining physical performance; however, little is known regarding what benefit these interventions might have when initiated late in life. The study of mimetics of diet and exercise and the combination thereof may provide additional treatments for a vulnerable elderly population; however, how and when to initiate such interventions requires consideration in developing the most safe and efficacious treatment strategies. In this review, we focus on preclinical late-life intervention studies, which assess the relationship between physical function, sarcopenia, and body composition. We provide a conceptual framework for the ever-changing definition of sarcopenia and a rationale for the use of an appropriate rodent model of this condition. We finish by providing our perspective regarding the implications of this body of work and future areas of research that may also contribute to the ultimate goal of extending healthspan.
Renin angiotensin system; Enalapril repamycin; Physical function; Body composition
The primary purpose of the present set of studies was to provide a direct comparison of the effects of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor enalapril and the angiotensin receptor blocker losartan on body composition, physical performance, and muscle quality when administered late in life to aged rats. Overall, enalapril treatment consistently attenuated age-related increases in adiposity relative to both placebo and losartan. The maximal effect was achieved after 3 months of treatment (between 24 and 27 months of age), at a dose of 40 mg/kg and was observed in the absence of any changes in physical activity, body temperature, or food intake. In addition, the reduction in fat mass was not due to changes in pathology given that enalapril attenuated age-related increases in tumor development relative to placebo- and losartan-treated animals. Both enalapril and losartan attenuated age-related decreases in grip strength, suggesting that changes in body composition appear dissociated from improvements in physical function and may reflect a differential impact of enalapril and losartan on muscle quality. To link changes in adiposity to improvements in skeletal muscle quality, we performed gene array analyses to generate hypotheses regarding cell signaling pathways altered with enalapril treatment. Based on these results, our primary follow-up pathway was mitochondria-mediated apoptosis of myocytes. Relative to losartan- and placebo-treated rats, only enalapril decreased DNA fragmentation and caspase-dependent apoptotic signaling. These data suggest that attenuation of the severity of skeletal muscle apoptosis promoted by enalapril may represent a distinct mechanism through which this compound improves muscle strength/quality.
Age-related adiposity; Body composition; Sarcopenia; Renin–angiotensin system; Physical function; Muscle quality
There is growing concern over the increasing use of opioids to treat chronic pain in the elderly primarily because of the potential increased sensitivity to the adverse side effects. Here, we use a preclinical model (male Brown Norway X F344 rats aged 12, 18, 24, and 30 months) to describe the outcome of chronic fentanyl administration (1.0 mg/kg/day) on various physiological and behavioral measures. Continuous fentanyl administration resulted in an initial decrease in food consumption, followed by the development of tolerance to this effect over a 4-week period and a subsequent increase in food consumption during withdrawal. This change in food consumption was associated with decreases in body weight (predominantly due to a loss of fat mass) that was maintained through early withdrawal. After one month of withdrawal, only the 12-month old animals had fully regained body weight. Fentanyl administration resulted in a decrease in grip strength and an increase in locomotor activity that did not differ across age groups. There was no effect of fentanyl administration on rotarod performance. These results demonstrate that while there is a delayed recovery of body mass with age, the observed changes in behavioral responses are uniform across ages.
Locomotor activity; Rotarod; Grip strength; Body composition; Osmotic minipump
Neuroproteomic studies of drug abuse offer the potential for a systems-level understanding of addiction. Understanding cocaine-responsive alterations in brain protein expression that persist even with extended abstinence may provide insight into relapse liability. In the current study, protein changes in the medial prefrontal cortex of cocaine self-administering rats following 1 and 100 days of enforced abstinence were quantified by 2D-DIGE. We have previously reported increased drug-seeking and drug-taking, as well as mRNA and epigenetic changes in this model even after 100 days of enforced abstinence. A number of statistically-significant changes in proteins relating to synapse function and neuronal remodeling were evident, including neurofilament medium and heat shock protein 73 (Hsp73) which increased at 1 day of abstinence, but returned to normal levels following 100 days of abstinence. −1 and synaptosome-associated protein 25 kDa (SNAP-25) were unchanged at 1 day of abstinence, but were significantly decreased after 100 days. These data demonstrate that while some protein changes return to normal levels following enforced cocaine abstinence, a number remain or become altered after long periods, up to 100 days, of cocaine abstinence. Those protein expression changes that do not reset to pre-cocaine exposure levels may contribute to the persistent relapse potential that occurs in response to cocaine abstinence.
Cocaine; medial prefrontal cortex; proteomics; withdrawal; self-administration
Many studies of cocaine-responsive gene expression have focused on changes occurring during cocaine exposure, but few studies have examined the persistence of these changes with cocaine abstinence. Persistent changes in gene expression, as well as alterations induced during abstinence may underlie long-lasting drug craving and relapse liability.
Whole-genome expression analysis was conducted on a rat cocaine binge-abstinence model that has previously been demonstrated to engender increased drug seeking and taking with abstinence. Gene expression changes in two mesolimbic terminal fields (mPFC and NAc) were identified in a comparison of cocaine-naïve rats with rats after 10 days of cocaine self-administration followed by 1, 10, or 100 days of enforced abstinence (n = 6-11 per group). A total of 1,461 genes in the mPFC and 414 genes in the NAc were altered between at least two time points (ANOVA, p < 0.05; ± 1.4 fold-change). These genes can be subdivided into: 1) changes with cocaine self-administration that do not persist into periods of abstinence, 2) changes with cocaine self-administration that persist with abstinence, 3) and those not changed with cocaine self-administration, but changed during enforced abstinence. qPCR analysis was conducted to confirm gene expression changes observed in the microarray analysis.
Together, these changes help to illuminate processes and networks involved in abstinence-induced behaviors, including synaptic plasticity, MAPK signaling, and TNF signaling.
Speed of drug onset is assumed to be an important determinant of the abuse liability of a drug. Studies in human and non-human primates suggest that the subjective and reinforcing effects of cocaine can be influenced by route of administration and/or speed of intravenous injection. Sensitization to the reinforcing effects of cocaine was studied in rats and the effects of various injection durations (i.e. speed of injection) on the development of sensitization was examined using a progressive ratio schedule. In addition, the effects of cocaine dose on sensitization and the effects of injection duration on the acute reinforcing effects of cocaine were examined. The initial study demonstrated that the development of sensitization (i.e. progressive increases in breakpoints) was dose-dependent. A robust sensitization of the reinforcing effects of cocaine was replicated in animals receiving cocaine at the highest rate (i.e. shortest duration; 5 s), but not in animals receiving the same dose over 25 or 50 s. Subsequent testing revealed that injection duration did not have profound effects on the acute reinforcing effects of cocaine (assessed by breakpoints or rate of responding on a fixed ratio schedule). These findings are similar to recent studies demonstrating that the development of sensitization, but not the acute responsivity, to cocaine’s locomotor-activating effects are influenced by rate of intravenous injection. Taking these findings together, we hypothesize that the process of drug addiction involves both the acute reinforcing effects and the development of sensitization.
abuse liability; infusion duration; locomotor activity; motivation; pharmacokinetics
Procedures have been developed which provide extremely stable patterns of cocaine self-administration in rats and these have been useful in lesion and drug pretreatment studies aimed at understanding the neurobiology of cocaine reinforcement. The issue now is whether studying the neurobiology of reinforcement is the same as studying the neurobiology of addiction. If the goal is to understand a progressive and deteriorating disorder, then the self-administration procedures should model specific aspects of the progressive stages of the addiction process. Here we review theoretical strategies for modeling the addiction process and present data from a series of experiments from our laboratory showing conditions which produce a progressive change in the motivation to self-administer cocaine in rats. This phenomenon is revealed by an escalation in breakpoints on a progressive ratio schedule. The effect, which is robust and persistent, depends on dose and speed of injection. Interestingly, high drug intake can retard the development of this effect, which we argue indicates that the addiction process has a developmental sequence. Finally, we suggest that specific parameters (dose, price and availability) can be used to examine the transition from recreational use to binge-like intake.
Animal models; Motivation; Sensitization; Addiction