Social rank-associated stress vulnerability predisposes individuals to cocaine attraction

Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 29;8(1):1759. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-19816-x.


Studies of personality have suggested that dissimilarities in ability to cope with stressful situations results in differing tendency to develop addictive behaviors. The present study used selectively bred stress-resilient, socially-dominant (Dom) and stress-vulnerable, socially-submissive (Sub) mice to investigate the interaction between environmental stress and inbred predisposition to develop addictive behavior to cocaine. In a Conditioned Place Preference (CPP) paradigm using cocaine, Sub mice displayed an aversion to drug, whereas Dom mice displayed drug attraction. Following a 4-week regimen of Chronic Mild Stress (CMS), Sub mice in CPP displayed a marked increase (>400%) in cocaine attraction, whereas Dom mice did not differ in attraction from their non-stressed state. Examination of hippocampal gene expression revealed in Sub mice, exposure to external stimuli, stress or cocaine, increased CRH expression (>100%), which was evoked in Dom mice only by cocaine exposure. Further, stress-induced decreases in DRD1 (>60%) and DRD2 (>50%) expression in Sub mice differed markedly from a complete lack of change in Dom mice. From our findings, we propose that social stratification dictates vulnerability to stress-induced attraction that may lead to addiction via differential regulation of hippocampal response to dopaminergic input, which in turn may influence differing tendency to develop addictive behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Conditioning, Classical / drug effects
  • Disease Susceptibility / psychology
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*


  • Cocaine