Gonadal steroids mediate the opposite changes in cocaine-induced locomotion across adolescence in male and female rats.
Evidence from both human studies and animal models indicates that cocaine elicits more behavioral stimulation in females than males. The present study sought to determine whether sex-specific responses to cocaine emerge during adolescence and to determine if gonadal steroid action during puberty affects adult responsiveness to cocaine. We administered cocaine using an escalating dose model in male and female rats at ages postnatal (PN) 28, 42, and 65 days. To assess the effects of pubertal gonadal steroid action, we compared the effects of binge cocaine administration on intact and prepubertally gonadectomized male and female rats in adulthood. Cocaine responses changed in opposite directions in males and females as they progressed through adolescence. At most doses, adolescent males were more responsive than adult males whereas adult females were more responsive than adolescent females. Ambulatory activity was age-dependent in males whereas non-ambulatory activity was age-dependent in females. Prepubertal gonadectomy increased behavioral responsiveness to the highest dose of cocaine in males whereas it decreased behavioral responsiveness to lower doses of cocaine in females. We conclude that sex differences in behavioral responses to cocaine arise during adolescence from a concurrent decrease in male responsiveness and increase in female responsiveness. Our results suggest that gonadal steroids exert lasting and opposing effects on the sensitivity of males and females to psychostimulants during development.
Parylak, SL; Caster, JM; Walker, QD; Kuhn, CM
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)