Social and physical environment alter cocaine conditioned place preference and dopaminergic markers in adolescent male rats

E. Zakharova, J. Miller, E. Unterwald, D. Wade, S. Izenwasser

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66 Scopus citations


This study was done to determine whether social and environmental factors alter cocaine reward and proteins implicated in mediating drug reward in rats during early adolescence. On postnatal day (PND) 23, rats were housed under conditions where both social (number of rats per cage) and environmental (availability of toys) factors were manipulated. Socially isolated rats were housed alone impoverished with no toys (II) or enriched with toys (IE). Social rats were housed two rats/cage with no toys (SI2) or with toys (SE2), or three/cage with (SE3) or without (SI3) toys. On PND 43, cocaine conditioned place preference (CPP) sessions began with the post-test done on PND 47. Cocaine CPP was established in response to 5 or 10 mg/kg cocaine in II rats, and CPP was decreased with the addition of cage mates or toys. No CPP was seen to any dose in SI3 or SE3 rats. Enriched housing (SE3) increased dopamine transporter (DAT) protein in the nucleus accumbens compared to II. There also were differential effects of cocaine on tyrosine hydroxylase and DAT depending on housing, with both increased by cocaine in II but not SE3 rats. DARPP-32 was unchanged by housing or cocaine, while phospho-Thr34-DARPP-32 was increased by cocaine treatment across conditions. Thus, both social and environmental enrichment decrease cocaine CPP during adolescence and different housing alters proteins that regulate dopaminergic neurotransmission in a manner that may account for the observed differences in cocaine-induced reward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)890-897
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 20 2009



  • adolescent
  • cocaine
  • conditioned place preference
  • enrichment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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