Intravenous cocaine self-administration in rats is reduced by dietary l-tryptophan

Marilyn E Carroll, Sylvie T. Lac, Marisel Asencio, Rebecca Kragh

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117 Scopus citations


Rats were trained to self-administer intravenously-delivered cocaine. Four lever-press responses resulted in a cocaine infusion (0.2 mg/kg) during daily 24-h sessions. The rats were also trained to obtain water from tongue-operated solenoid-driven drinking spouts. Ground food and water from a standard drinking bottle were also available. When cocaine injections reached stable levels, l-tryptophan was mixed with the rats' food for 5 days. Three concentrations of l-tryptophan (2, 4, and 8%) were tested in different groups of five rats each. Three other groups of five rats each received the same l-tryptophan treatments; however, in these rats saline was substituted for cocaine and a sweet drinking solution consisting of glucose and saccharin (G + S) replaced water in the automatic drinking device. Two other groups consisting of five rats each self-administered a higher (0.4 mg/kg) or lower (0.1 mg/kg) unit dose of cocaine and food adulterated with 4% tryptophan. At the two higher concentrations l-tryptophan reduced cocaine infusions by at least 50% during the 5 days of treatment, and cocaine infusions returned to baseline levels within 48 h after the regular diet was restored. Responding reinforced by the G + S solution was not altered by any of the l-tryptophan concentrations. Food intake was substantially lowered by the 8%l-tryptophan concentration; however, water intake, responding on an inactive lever, and the number of saline infusions were not affected by addition of l-tryptophan to the food. l-Tryptophan had the same magnitude of effect on self-administration of the 0.1 and 0.2 mg/kg unit doses of cocaine, but behavior maintained by the highest cocaine dose (0.4 mg/kg) was resistant to the effect of l-tryptophan. The results of this experiment indicate that l-tryptophan reduces behavior reinforced by IV cocaine infusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-300
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1990


  • Cocaine
  • Dietary l-tryptophan
  • Intravenous
  • Self-administration
  • Serotonin (5-HT)


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