Rationale: Ketoconazole, an inhibitor of corticosterone synthesis, has been reported to decrease the self-administration of low doses of cocaine and prevent stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine-reinforced behavior in rats. Objectives: The effects of ketoconazole were extended to the acquisition of i.v. cocaine self-administration during food restriction, a form of stress. Food restriction accelerates the acquisition of cocaine self-administration, and the purpose of this experiment was to determine whether ketoconazole would block the food-restriction effect. As control conditions, the effects of ketoconazole on the acquisition of cocaine self-administration in food-satiated rats and acquisition of food-reinforced responding were also evaluated. Methods: Six groups of rats (groups 1-6) were trained to self-administer i.v. cocaine (0.2 mg/kg; groups 1-4) or food pellets (45 mg; groups 5 and 6) under a fixed-ratio 1 (FR 1) schedule. Food availability was restricted to 20 g per day in groups 1, 2, 5, and 6, while groups 3 and 4 were fed ad libitum. Daily sessions included a 6-h autoshaping component followed by a 6-h self-administration component. During autoshaping, 10 infusions or food pellets were delivered each h under a random interval 15-s schedule after extension and retraction of a lever. During self-administration, the lever remained extended and infusions or food pellets were available under an FR 1 schedule. The criterion for acquisition was a 5-day period during which a mean of 100 cocaine infusions or 150 food pellets was obtained during the self-administration component. Rats were given 30 days to reach this criterion. They were pretreated with ketoconazole (25 mg/kg, i.p.; groups 1, 3, and 5) or vehicle (i.p.; groups 2, 4, and 6) 30 min prior to the autoshaping and self-administration components. Results: Pretreatment with ketoconazole decreased both the rate of acquisition of cocaine self-administration and the percentage of rats meeting the acquisition criterion but only under food-restricted conditions. Ketoconazole had no effect on the acquisition of food-reinforced responding. Conclusions: These results extend previous findings of the suppressant effects of ketoconazole on cocaine-reinforced responding in rats to the acquisition of cocaine self-administration using food restriction as a stressor.
- Food restriction