Effects of dopamine agonists and antagonists on cocaine-induced operant responding for a cocaine-associated stimulus

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1996 Aug;126(4):311-22. doi: 10.1007/BF02247382.


The present study examined the effects of receptor subtype-selective dopamine agonists and antagonists on (i) cocaine-induced responding for a cocaine-associated stimulus and (ii) on responding for food and cocaine reinforcement. Rats implanted with intravenous catheters were trained to lever-press for food or cocaine reinforcers on an FR5-FR5 multiple schedule, which was preceded by a 5-min component during which only stimuli previously associated with the primary reinforcers were available response-contingently. (i) Non-contingent delivery of cocaine at the beginning of the stimulus component significantly increased responding for the cocaine-associated stimulus, compared to responding for the food-associated cue. Changes in the dose of cocaine administered non-contingently before the stimulus component resulted in an inverted U-shaped dose-effect curve in responding for the cocaine-associated cue. In subsequent experiments, pretreatment with the dopamine D2 receptor agonist bromocriptine (4.0-16.0 mg/kg IP) attenuated the cocaine-induced increase in responding for the cocaine-associated cue. In contrast, pretreatment with low doses of SDZ 208-911, a dopamine D2 partial agonist (0.025-0.1 mg/kg SC), further potentiated the cocaine-induced response. Pretreatment with low and medium doses of the dopamine D1 and D2 receptor subtype-selective antagonists SCH 23390 (D1; 5-10 micrograms/kg SC) and raclopride (D2; 100-200 micrograms/kg SC) blocked responding for cocaine-associated cues, with SCH 23390 acting more selectively than raclopride. At higher doses (SCH 23390: 20 micrograms/kg SC; raclopride: 400 micrograms/kg SC), both drugs produced non-selective effects by inhibiting responses for the food-associated cue. (ii) Varying the dose of cocaine self-administered during the multiple schedule resulted in an inverted U-shaped dose-effect curve during the cocaine components, while the number of food pellets earned remained unchanged. Pretreatment with bromocriptine selectively reduced the number of cocaine infusions obtained. The compensatory increases in responding for cocaine typically associated with SCH 23390, raclopride or SDZ 208-911 pretreatment were also observed under the present schedule conditions, although the effect did not reach statistical significance in the case of SCH 23390 and raclopride, possibly due to methodological constraints. The results indicate that the present rat model of cocaine-seeking behavior is sensitive to pharmacological manipulations and may yield important information regarding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying conditioned and unconditioned reinforcing aspects of cocaine addiction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Bromocriptine / pharmacology
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects*
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ergolines / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Raclopride
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Salicylamides / pharmacology
  • Self Administration


  • Benzazepines
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Ergolines
  • Salicylamides
  • N-(2,6-dimethylergoline-8-yl)-2,2-dimethylpropanamide
  • Bromocriptine
  • Raclopride
  • Cocaine