Individual differences in the effects of serotonergic anxiolytic drugs on the motivation to self-administer cocaine

J. R. Homberg, B. Arends, G. Wardeh, H. S. Raasø, A. N.M. Schoffelmeer, T. J. De Vries

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Numerous clinical studies have indicated that lifetime anxiety is highly prevalent in drug addicts. In the treatment of drug abuse, dually diagnosed drug addicts may benefit from pharmacological intervention strategies that alleviate the psychiatric symptomatology. We have previously shown that rats with different coping strategies in a stressful environment show strong differences in the motivation to self-administer cocaine. That is, cocaine self-administration under a progressive ratio (PR) schedule of reinforcement was enhanced in high grooming (HG) rats as compared with low grooming (LG) rats. To identify the pharmacological basis of these differences, we tested the acute effects of several anxiolytic drugs on cocaine self-administration in HG and LG rats under a PR schedule of reinforcement. Chlordiazepoxide increased PR responding in both the HG and LG rats, while the selective corticotrophin releasing hormone 1 receptor antagonist R121919 had no effect on cocaine self-administration under the PR schedule. Interestingly, buspirone and fluoxetine decreased PR responding in HG rats only and thereby abolished the individual differences in PR responding between HG and LG rats. In support of the differential effects of the serotonergic drugs on PR responding in HG and LG rats, we found that the in vitro electrically evoked release of [ 3H]serotonin from mesocorticolimbic brain slices was reduced in the medial prefrontal cortex, substantia nigra and nucleus accumbens core, and increased in the nucleus accumbens shell of HG rats relative to LG rats. These findings show that serotonergic anxiolytics abolish the pre-existing individual differences in cocaine self-administration between HG and LG rats, which show differences in the reactivity of serotonergic neurons. This suggests that the effectiveness of pharmacological interference may depend on the neurochemical and motivational state of the individual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2004


  • CP
  • CRH
  • DA
  • EPM
  • FR
  • HG
  • LG
  • anxiety
  • caudate putamen
  • corticotrophin releasing hormone
  • depression
  • dopamine
  • elevated plus maze
  • fixed ratio
  • high grooming
  • low grooming
  • mPFC
  • medial prefrontal cortex
  • progressive ratio
  • self-grooming

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