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      Social defeat stress in rats: escalation of cocaine and "speedball" binge self-administration, but not heroin.

      Animals, Behavior, Addictive, psychology, Cocaine, administration & dosage, pharmacology, Cocaine-Related Disorders, Dominance-Subordination, Drug Synergism, Heroin, Heroin Dependence, Male, Motor Activity, drug effects, Rats, Rats, Long-Evans, Reinforcement (Psychology), Reinforcement Schedule, Self Administration, Stress, Psychological

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          Exposure to intermittent episodes of social defeat stress can increase drug seeking and leads to intense drug taking in rats. This study investigated the consequences of repeated, intermittent social defeat stress on patterns of drug self-administration in rats with access to heroin, cocaine, or a heroin-cocaine combination ("speedball"). Male Long-Evans rats were either handled (controls) or subjected to 25-min social defeat stress episodes on days 1, 4, 7, and 10 during confrontations with an aggressive resident. Ten days following the last defeat, rats were assessed for locomotor cross-sensitization in response to heroin or cocaine. Animals were then prepared with intrajugular catheters for drug self-administration. Separate groups of controls and defeated rats were examined for self-administration of heroin (experiment 1), a heroin-cocaine combination (experiment 2), or cocaine (experiment 3). Drug self-administration patterns were evaluated using fixed or progressive ratio schedules of reinforcement during limited access sessions or a 24-h unlimited access binge. Rats with a history of intermittent social defeat stress showed sensitized locomotor behavior when challenged with heroin or cocaine relative to controls. During the 24-h binge session, defeated rats escalated cocaine-taking behavior (ca. 110 mg/kg vs. 66 mg/kg in controls), persisted in self-administering cocaine or the heroin-cocaine mixture for more hours, and showed a tendency for increased heroin-cocaine intake, but no effects on heroin taking. A history of social defeat stress seems to preferentially promote escalated intake of cocaine but not heroin, unless a heroin-cocaine combination is available.

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