A diet promoting sugar dependency causes behavioral cross-sensitization to a low dose of amphetamine

Neuroscience. 2003;122(1):17-20. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(03)00502-5.


Previous research in this laboratory has shown that a diet of intermittent excessive sugar consumption produces a state with neurochemical and behavioral similarities to drug dependency. The present study examined whether female rats on various regimens of sugar access would show behavioral cross-sensitization to a low dose of amphetamine. After a 30-min baseline measure of locomotor activity (day 0), animals were maintained on a cyclic diet of 12-h deprivation followed by 12-h access to 10% sucrose solution and chow pellets (12 h access starting 4 h after onset of the dark period) for 21 days. Locomotor activity was measured again for 30 min at the beginning of days 1 and 21 of sugar access. Beginning on day 22, all rats were maintained on ad libitum chow. Nine days later locomotor activity was measured in response to a single low dose of amphetamine (0.5 mg/kg). The animals that had experienced cyclic sucrose and chow were hyperactive in response to amphetamine compared with four control groups (ad libitum 10% sucrose and chow followed by amphetamine injection, cyclic chow followed by amphetamine injection, ad libitum chow with amphetamine, or cyclic 10% sucrose and chow with a saline injection). These results suggest that a diet comprised of alternating deprivation and access to a sugar solution and chow produces bingeing on sugar that leads to a long lasting state of increased sensitivity to amphetamine, possibly due to a lasting alteration in the dopamine system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Hyperkinesis / chemically induced*
  • Locomotion / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology*
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage*
  • Sucrose / adverse effects*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Dopamine Agents
  • Sucrose
  • Amphetamine