Sex differences in cocaine self-administration by Wistar rats after predator odor exposure

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Feb 27:2023.02.26.530127. doi: 10.1101/2023.02.26.530127.


Traumatic stress disorders are defined in part by persistent avoidance of trauma-related contexts. Our lab uses a preclinical model of traumatic stress using predator odor (i.e., bobcat urine) in which some but not all rats exhibit persistent avoidance of odor-paired stimuli, similar to what is seen in humans. Bobcat urine exposure increases alcohol consumption in male Avoider rats, but it has not been tested for its effects on intake of other drugs. Here, we tested the effect of bobcat urine exposure on cocaine self-administration in adult male and female Wistar rats. We did not observe any effect of bobcat urine exposure on cocaine self-administration in male or female rats. We observed that (1) female rats with long access (6 hours) to cocaine self-administer more cocaine than long-access males, (2) long-access males and females exhibit escalation of cocaine intake over time, (3) stressed rats gain less weight than unstressed rats following acute predator odor exposure, (4) baseline cocaine self-administration is predictive of subsequent cocaine self-administration. The results of this study may inform future work on predator odor effects on cocaine self-administration.

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  • Preprint