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Sex differences in opioid reinforcement under a fentanyl vs. food choice procedure in rats

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  • E Andrew Townsend
  • S Stevens Negus
  • S Barak Caine
  • Morgane Thomsen
  • Matthew L Banks
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Clinical evidence suggest that men are more sensitive than women to the abuse-related effects of mu-opioid agonists. In contrast, preclinical studies suggest the opposite sex difference. The aim of the present study was to clarify this discrepancy using a fentanyl vs. diluted Ensure® choice procedure to assess sex differences in opioid reinforcement. Sex differences in intravenous (IV) fentanyl self-administration were examined under a fixed-ratio (FR5) schedule, a multi-day progressive-ratio (PR) schedule for behavioral economic analysis, and a concurrent (choice) schedule of fentanyl and diluted Ensure® reinforcement in Sprague-Dawley male and female rats. The fentanyl dose-effect function under the FR5 schedule was significantly shifted upward in females compared to males. Similarly, the reinforcing effectiveness of both fentanyl (3.2 and 10 µg/kg per injection, IV) and diluted Ensure® (18 and 56%) were greater in females than in males as assessed using behavioral economic analysis, irrespective of dose or concentration. However, under a fentanyl vs. foodchoice procedure, males chose 3.2 µg/kg per injection fentanyl injections over 18%, but not 56%, diluted Ensure® at a higher percentage compared to females. Overall, these results suggest that the expression of sex differences in opioid reinforcement depends upon the schedule of reinforcement and that preclinical opioid vs. food choice procedures provide a translationally relevant measure (i.e., behavioral allocation) consistent with the direction of sex differences reported in the clinical literature.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuropsychopharmacology
Volume44
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)2022-2029
Number of pages8
ISSN0893-133X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

ID: 59120736