Rationale: Previous research with male subjects has demonstrated that alternative non-drug reinforcers reduce self-administration of drugs of abuse under a wide variety of conditions. Recent findings indicate sex differences in drug self-administration, and females may be more responsive to the suppressive effects of pharmacological treatment strategies than males; however, it is not known whether or not there are similar sex differences in the effect of behavioral interventions, such as non-drug reinforcers, on drug self-administration. Objectives: The goal of this research was to determine whether the suppressive effects of non-drug reinforcers vary as a function of sex using behavioral economic measures in rhesus monkeys. Methods: During daily 3-h sessions, seven male and seven female adult rhesus monkeys orally self-administered concurrently available phencyclidine (PCP) and water, PCP and saccharin, or saccharin and water, from two separate spouts, under a series of fixed-ratio (FR) values. The FR value was varied from 4 to 8, 16, 32, 64, and 128, and the demand (consumption x FR) for PCP was measured in order to determine the effect of concurrent access to saccharin (versus water). Results: The availability of saccharin resulted in reduced PCP self-administration compared with the condition when water was available in both males and females. Consumption of PCP and saccharin was similar between the sexes under the two conditions when water was concurrently available. When saccharin was available with PCP, PCP responses and deliveries were reduced in both sexes at low to intermediate FR values, but the amount of PCP consumed (mg/kg) was reduced significantly more in females than in males only at FR 32. Conclusions: Non-drug reinforcers are an effective treatment for drug abuse in females as well as males over a range of PCP FR values. Males show elevated drug-maintained responding compared with females, but when differential body weights are considered (mg/kg) females consume more than males only under limited schedule parameters.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgements This research was supported by grants RO1 DA02486–22 and K05 DA15267–01 (MEC) from the National Institute of Drug Abuse and grant F31 AA005575–02 (KPC) from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The authors gratefully acknowledge Jennifer Mickelberg, Megan Roth, Tina Gremel, and Katherine Klammer for their assistance in collecting the data, Megan Roth for her helpful comments on the manuscript and Andrew Morgan for his help with the figures.
- Behavioral economics
- Non-drug alternative reinforcer
- Rhesus monkey
- Sex differences