This experiment examines the effect of access to a running-wheel on intravenous cocaine self-administration in male and female rats. Rats maintained at 85% of their free-feeding body weight were first exposed to the running-wheel alone during the 6-h sessions until behavior stabilized for 14 days. Intravenous cannulae were then implanted, and the rats were trained to self-administer a low dose of cocaine (0.2 mg/kg) under a fixed-ratio (FR 1) schedule during the 6-h sessions, while the wheel remained inactive and cocaine self-administration stabilized (cocaine-only condition). Next, the wheel access and cocaine self-administration were concurrently available followed by a period of cocaine-only. Behavior was allowed to stabilize for 10 days at each phase. During wheel access, cocaine infusions decreased by 21.9% in males and 70.6% in females compared to the cocaine-only condition; the effect was statistically significant in females. Infusions increased to baseline levels when wheel access was terminated. When cocaine infusions were concurrently available, wheel revolutions were reduced by 63.7% and 61.5% in males and females, respectively, compared to the wheel-only condition. This result did not differ due to sex, but it was statistically significant when data from males and females were combined. These results indicate that wheel-running activity had a greater suppressant effect on cocaine self-administration in females than in males, and in females, wheel-running and cocaine self-administration are substitutable as reinforcers.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank Beth Drewitz, Christina Gremel and Annemarie Loth for their technical assistance, and Erin Larson, Andrew Morgan and Megan Roth for their helpful comments on the manuscript. Portions of this paper were presented at the meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Scottsdale, AZ on June 2001. This research was supported by grants R37 DA03240 (MEC), F31 AA005575 (KPC) and a donation by Aaron Arel.
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- Alternative reinforcer