Sensitivity to cocaine conditioned reward depends on sex and age

Elena Zakharova, Dean Wade, Sari Izenwasser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Human and animal laboratory studies show that females and males respond differently to drugs and that drug administration during adolescence leads to different behavioral effects than during adulthood. Adult female rats are more sensitive to the behavioral effects of cocaine than adult males, but it is not known if the same effect of sex exists during adolescence. In the present study, sensitivity to the conditioned reward of cocaine was evaluated using a conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm where adolescent (PND 34) and adult (PND 66) male and female rats were trained and tested for the development of CPP to multiple doses of cocaine. Female rats developed CPP at lower doses than males, regardless of age. In addition, adolescent male and female rats established a CPP at lower doses of cocaine than adult male and female rats, respectively. Thus, both age and sex altered cocaine conditioned reward with the order of sensitivity being adolescent females > adult females > adolescent males > adult males. These data show that adolescents are more sensitive to the conditioned rewarding properties of cocaine than adults and that females respond to lower doses of cocaine compared to males regardless of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-134
Number of pages4
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Adolescent
  • Cocaine
  • Conditioned place preference
  • Female
  • Male
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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