Characterization of the guinea pig animal model and subsequent comparison of the behavioral effects of selective dopaminergic drugs and methamphetamine

Synapse. 2014 May;68(5):221-33. doi: 10.1002/syn.21731. Epub 2014 Jan 31.


Although not commonly used in behavior tests guinea pigs may offer subtle behavior repertoires that better mimic human activity and warrant study. To test this, 31 Hartley guinea pigs (male, 200-250 g) were evaluated in PhenoTyper cages using the video-tracking EthoVision XT 7.0 software. Results showed that guinea pigs spent more time in the hidden zone (small box in corner of cage) than the food/water zone, or arena zone. Guinea pigs exhibited thigmotaxis (a wall following strategy) and were active throughout the light and dark phases. Eating and drinking occurred throughout the light and dark phases. An injection of 0.25 mg/kg SCH23390, the dopamine D1 receptors (D1R) antagonist, produced significant decreases in time spent in the hidden zone. There were insignificant changes in time spent in the hidden zone for guinea pigs treated with 7.5 mg SKF38393 (D1R agonist), 1.0 mg/kg sulpiride (D2R antagonist), and 1.0 or 10.0 mg/kg methamphetamine. Locomotor activity profiles were unchanged after injections of saline, SKF38393, SCH23390, and sulpiride. By contrast, a single injection or repeated administration for 7 days of low-dose methamphetamine induced transient hyperactivity but this declined to baseline levels over the 22-h observation period. Guinea pigs treated with high-dose methamphetamine displayed sustained hyperactivity and travelled significantly greater distances over the circadian cycle. Subsequent 7-day treatment with high-dose methamphetamine induced motor sensitization and significant increases in total distances moved relative to single drug injections or saline controls. These results highlight the versatility and unique features of the guinea pig for studying brain-behavior interactions.

Keywords: EthoVision XT; SCH23390; SKF38393; home-cage occupancy; locomotor activity; sulpiride.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • 2,3,4,5-Tetrahydro-7,8-dihydroxy-1-phenyl-1H-3-benzazepine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Locomotion / drug effects*
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology*


  • Benzazepines
  • Dopamine Agents
  • SCH 23390
  • Methamphetamine
  • 2,3,4,5-Tetrahydro-7,8-dihydroxy-1-phenyl-1H-3-benzazepine