Pica in rats is analogous to emesis: an animal model in emesis research

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1993 Aug;45(4):817-21. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(93)90126-e.


Mitchell et al. (1976, 1977) suggested that pica, eating of nonnutritive substances such as kaolin, is an illness-response behavior in rats. In the present study, we first confirmed their suggestion and then examined the effects of antiemetics on emetic-induced pica in rats. Intraperitoneal injection of apomorphine induced dose-dependent kaolin consumption. Pretreatment with domperidone inhibited apomorphine-induced kaolin intake. Oral administration of copper sulfate and intraperitoneal injection of cisplatin also induced dose-dependent kaolin consumption. Pretreatment with ondansetron inhibited cisplatin-induced kaolin intake. These findings suggest that pica in rats was induced through 1) dopamine D2 receptors in the chemoreceptor trigger zone, and 2) the stomach, partly via 5-HT3 receptors in the visceral afferents in the stomach wall. The present findings support the conclusion that pica in rats is analogous to vomiting in other species and suggest that pica in rats is mediated by the same mechanisms as vomiting in humans. Accordingly, we extended the utility of the animal model to pharmacological research of emesis with pica as an analogue to emesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiemetics / pharmacology*
  • Apomorphine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Apomorphine / pharmacology
  • Cisplatin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Copper / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Copper / pharmacology
  • Copper Sulfate
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Domperidone / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Food
  • Kaolin / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Ondansetron / pharmacology
  • Pica / chemically induced
  • Pica / psychology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Vomiting / chemically induced
  • Vomiting / psychology*


  • Antiemetics
  • Kaolin
  • Ondansetron
  • Domperidone
  • Copper
  • Copper Sulfate
  • Apomorphine
  • Cisplatin