4 years ago

Escalated cocaine “binges” in rats: enduring effects of social defeat stress or intra-VTA CRF

Klaus A. Miczek, Michael Z. Leonard, Joseph F. DeBold



Exposure to intermittent social defeat stress elicits corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) release into the VTA and induces long-term modulation of mesocorticolimbic dopamine activity in rats. These adaptations are associated with an intense cocaine-taking phenotype, which is prevented by CRF receptor antagonists.


The present studies examine whether infusion of CRF into the VTA is sufficient to escalate cocaine-taking behavior, in the absence of social defeat experience. Additionally, we aimed to characterize changes in cocaine valuation that may promote binge-like cocaine intake.


Male Long-Evans rats were microinjected into the VTA with CRF (50 or 500 ng/side), vehicle, or subjected to social defeat stress, intermittently over 10 days. Animals were then trained to self-administer IV cocaine (FR5). Economic demand for cocaine was evaluated using a within-session behavioral-economics threshold procedure, which was followed by a 24-h extended access “binge.”


Rats that experienced social defeat or received intra-VTA CRF microinfusions (50 ng) both took significantly more cocaine than controls over the 24-h binge but showed distinct patterns of intake. Behavioral economic analysis revealed that individual demand for cocaine strongly predicts binge-like consumption, and demand elasticity (i.e. α) is augmented by intra-VTA CRF, but not by social defeat. The effects of CRF on cocaine-taking were also prevented by intra-VTA pretreatment with CP376395, but not Astressin-2B.


Repeated infusion of CRF into the VTA persistently alters cocaine valuation and intensifies binge-like drug intake in a CRF-R1-dependent manner. Conversely, the persistent pattern of cocaine bingeing induced by social defeat stress may suggest impaired inhibitory control, independent of reward valuation.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-017-4677-7

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-017-4677-7

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.