Influence of estrous cycle and estradiol on behavioral sensitization to cocaine in female rats

Stacy L. Sell, Mary L. Thomas, Kathryn A. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

The hypotheses that the estrous cycle and estradiol modulate behavioral sensitization to cocaine in female rats were assessed. In an analysis of sensitization across the estrous cycle, female rats were administered saline or cocaine (15 mg/kg) twice daily for 5 days. Sensitization developed in the intact female rats as measured by the significant increase in stimulant behaviors seen between day 1 and day 5 of treatment. Rats were challenged with cocaine (5 mg/kg) at 3 days following discontinuation of drug treatment. The expression of sensitization as measured between cocaine and saline-treated rats was evident only in female rats in diestus at the time of the challenge test with cocaine. To explore the role of estradiol in sensitization, female rats were ovariectomized or ovariectomized and implanted with estradiol for two weeks prior to treatment with cocaine (15 mg/kg) twice daily for 5 days. Sensitization developed in both ovariectomized and ovariectomized+estradiol rats treated with cocaine as measured by the significant increase in stimulant-like behaviors seen between day 1 and day 5 of treatment. Rats were challenged with 5 mg/kg of cocaine at 3, 13 and 34 days following discontinuation of drug treatment. While neither hormone treatment group exposed to the cocaine regimen expressed sensitization at 3 days of withdrawal, both groups exhibited sensitization at 13 and 34 days following discontinuation of cocaine treatment. The estradiol-treated groups exhibited higher levels of activity relative to their untreated cohorts in both saline or cocaine treatment groups. These results suggest that detection of sensitization in female rats is not only influenced by injection regimen and length of abstinence but also by the presence of estrogens which effectively enhance the response to an acute cocaine challenge in the presence or absence of prior cocaine exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-290
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Volume67
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2002

Keywords

  • Behavior
  • Cocaine
  • Estrogen
  • Estrous cycle
  • Female rats
  • Sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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