Female Rats Exhibit Less Avoidance than Male Rats of a Cocaine-, but not a Morphine-paired, Saccharin cue
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Rats avoid intake of an otherwise palatable taste cue when paired with drugs of abuse (Grigson and Twining, 2002). In male rats, avoidance of drug-paired taste cues is associated with conditioned blunting of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (Grigson and Hajnal, 2007), conditioned elevation in circulating corticosterone (Gomez et al., 2000), and greater avoidance of the drug-paired cue predicts greater drug-taking (Grigson and Twining, 2002). While female rats generally are more responsive to drug than male rats, in this self-administration model, female rats consume more of a cocaine-paired saccharin cue and take less drug than males (Cason and Grigson, 2013). What is not known, however, is whether the same is true when a saccharin cue predicts availability of an opiate, particularly when the amount of drug experienced is held constant via passive administration by the experimenter. Here, avoidance of a saccharin cue was evaluated following pairings with experimenter delivered cocaine or morphine in male and female rats. Results showed that males and females avoided intake of a taste cue when paired with experimenter administered morphine or cocaine, and individual differences emerged whereby some male and female rats exhibited greater avoidance of the drug-paired cue than others. Female rats did not drink more of the saccharin cue than males when paired with morphine in Experiment 1, however, they did drink more of the saccharin cue than male rats when paired with cocaine in Experiment 2. While no pattern with estrous cycle emerged, avoidance of the cocaine-paired cue, like avoidance of a morphine-paired cue (Gomez et al., 2000), was associated with a conditioned elevation in corticosterone in both male and female rats.