Sweet preference and impulsivity are predictors of cocaine self-administration; however, no research has been conducted to investigate neuronal activation in key brain reward areas after first time exposure to cocaine in rats that differ in their propensity for cocaine-seeking and -taking behavior. In this study we used rats that had been selectively bred for high vs. low saccharin intake and rats selected for high vs. low impulsivity for food. The goal of this study was to investigate whether there are differences of c-Fos reactivity between high and low phenotypes and determine whether these differences are similar between the two animal models. A group of rats was bred for high or low saccharin intake. Another group of rats was selected as high or low impulsive based on performance in a delay-discounting task. Subsequently, rats were given an acute injection of cocaine or saline and then c-Fos expression was observed and analyzed in several brain regions. The low reward-seeking phenotypes showed higher cocaine-induced c-Fos expression in several of these regions. Low saccharin preferring rats showed higher cocaine-induced c-Fos expression in the nucleus accumbens shell, and low impulsive rats showed higher cocaine-induced c-Fos expression in the orbitofrontal cortex and cingulate gyrus 1 area. In addition, both low impulsive and low saccharin rats had higher cocaine-induced c-Fos in the dorsal medial and dorsal lateral caudate putamen. The results indicate that individual differences in neuronal reactivity exist prior to chronic exposure to drugs of abuse. Furthermore, similar differences between the two animal models may be indicative of a common mechanism underlying vulnerability to drugs of abuse.
- Sweet preference