Differential effects of allopregnanolone on the escalation of cocaine self-administration and sucrose intake in female rats

Justin J. Anker, Natalie E. Zlebnik, Marilyn E. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Rationale: Evidence suggests that the progesterone metabolite allopregnanolone (ALLO) decreases cocaine seeking in animal models of relapse. Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of ALLO on an animal model of cocaine and sucrose bingeing (escalation). Allopregnanolone's effects on yohimbine-induced sucrose intake were also examined. In a separate group of animals, dose interactions between ALLO and cocaine were examined with an abbreviated procedure, a short access progressive ratio (PR) schedule for cocaine reinforcement. Methods: Female rats were treated with ALLO (15 mg/kg, s.c.) or vehicle (VEH) and trained to lever press for cocaine infusions (0.4 mg/kg) under an extended-access procedure. In a separate condition, other ALLO- and VEH-treated female rats self-administered orally delivered liquid sucrose. Allopregnanolone and VEH treatment was then discountinued and the sucrose-maintained rats were administered priming injections of saline, yohimbine, or yohimbine+ALLO. For the PR condition, rats were first treated with VEH until reaching stability at four doses of cocaine (0.2, 0.4, 0.8, and 1.6 mg/kg in mixed order). Subsequently, rats re-established their baseline cocaine intake at the four cocaine doses following treatment with each of two counterbalanced doses of ALLO (15 and 30 mg/kg). Results: ALLO significantly blocked the escalation of cocaine self-administration but did not reliably affect intake of sucrose under a similar condition or affect cocaine intake at several doses under a PR schedule. Yohimbine significantly increased sucrose intake while ALLO failed to attenuate this increase. Conclusion: These findings indicate that ALLO protects against binge-like patterns of cocaine intake but does not reduce sugar intake that is acutely increased by yohimbine in females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-429
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010


  • Allopregnanolone
  • Cocaine
  • Escalation
  • Progressive ratio
  • Rats
  • Sucrose

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