Faculty Publications


Conflict behavior in maudsley reactive and nonreactive rats: Effects of noradrenergic neuronal destruction

Document Type



Anxiety, Conflict behavior, DSP4, Locus coeruleus, Maudsley rats, Noradrenergic

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior





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The present studies were designed to examine the effects of treatment with the noradrenergic neurotoxin N-(2-chloroethyl)-n-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine HCl (DSP4; 65 mg/kg, IP) on conflict behavior in the Maudsley reactive (MR) and nonreactive (MNRA) rat strains. In daily 10-min sessions, water-restricted rats were trained to drink water from a tube that was ocassionally electrified; electrification was signaled by the presence of a tone (7-s duration; ISI = 30 s). Consistent with previous reports, the number of shocks accepted by rats of the MR and MNRA strains did not differ initially, but MNRA rats exhibited a dramatic increase in punished responding relative to their MR counterparts over the course of several weeks of conflict testing. This MR vs. MNRA strain difference in punished responding did not exhibit extinction following discontinuation of CSD conflict behavior testing for a period of 6 weeks. Whether it was administered after conflict training or before, DSP4 treatment did not reduce the MR vs. MNRA strain difference in conflict behavior; rather, DSP4 treatment tended to increase the magnitude of the MR vs. MNRA difference in conflict behavior. The effects of DSP4 on norepinephrine (NE) and 5-hydroxytrypamine (5-HT) concentrations in the pons medulla region were determined in one group of conflict-experienced MR and MNRA rats (35 weeks after administration) and in a second group of naive MR and MNRA rats (3 weeks after administration). There were no MR vs. MNRA strain differences in NE or 5-HT concentrations in vehicle-treated rats. DSP4 treatment significantly reduced NE, but not 5-HT, concentrations when compared to control values; rats that were sacrificed 3 weeks following DSP4 administration exhibited a greater NE depletion than did rats sacrificed 35 weeks after DSP4 administration. Finally, there were no significant correlations between pons medulla region NE concentrations and conflict behavior in either strain alone or when the data from the two strains were combined. The present results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the MR vs. MNRA strain difference in conflict behavior is the result of strain differences in brain NE function. © 1993.

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