Maternal experience protects female rats against drug abuse liability
Monday, Oct 15, 2012, 2:30 PM - 2:45 PM
*J. A. CUMMINGS
, J. B. BECKER
Mol. & Behavioral Neuro, Univ. of Michigan, ANN ARBOR, MI;
Neurosci. Program, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Maternal experience is a factor that significantly alters neurological and behavioral development of the offspring. Interestingly, maternal experience also results in a number of positive effects on the mother, such as increased memory and enhanced spatial ability, which persist well after the offspring have been weaned. Because the brain areas and neural circuitry that are heavily involved in mediating maternal care are the same as those activated by drugs of abuse, we have begun to examine the effect of prior motherhood on drug abuse liability. We have found that prior maternal experience alters a female rat’s response to cocaine in a way that attenuates her drug abuse liability.
First, we evaluated differences in drug taking between nulliparous (virgin) and primiparous females (those that have given birth to and reared one litter). When self-administering cocaine on a fixed ratio (FR) 1 schedule, nulliparous females demonstrate escalation (that is, increase drug taking) during the first week whereas primiparous females maintain a steady level of responding. Additionally, when cocaine is challenging to obtain (i.e., FR70 or higher), nulliparous females will work harder than primiparous females to obtain an infusion of the drug. In order to evaluate their neurological responses to cocaine, we used microdialysis to examine cocaine-induced dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens after an injection of cocaine (10 mg/kg, IP) in drug-naïve nulliparous and primiparous rats. Nulliparous females release significantly more dopamine in response to cocaine than do primiparous females, suggesting that the same dose of cocaine has less of an effect (i.e., is less reinforcing) in primiparous than nulliparous animals. In support of this, we find that primiparous females self-administer more cocaine after an acute stressor (i.e., footshock) when the cocaine is easily attainable (i.e., FR5). Taken together, these data indicate that mothers are less susceptible to the effects of cocaine than are nulliparous females.
[Authors]. [Abstract Title]. Program No. XXX.XX. 2012 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. New Orleans, LA: Society for Neuroscience, 2012. Online.
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