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J Neurosci. 2000 Jun 1;20(11):4226-32.

Vertical shifts in self-administration dose-response functions predict a drug-vulnerable phenotype predisposed to addiction.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Psychobiologie des Comportements Adaptatifs, Domaine de Carreire, 33077 Bordeaux, France.


The role of individual differences in the etiology of addiction is a very controversial issue. Neuroendocrine phenotypes that are able to predispose an individual to the development of drug intake have been identified previously. However, such information has been gathered by comparing individuals who differ in their sensitivity to low doses of the drug. Consequently, it remains unclear whether a phenotype predicting a higher sensitivity to low drug doses would be relevant in environmental conditions, such as the ones encountered by humans in which high drug doses are available. In this report, we studied dose-response, dose-intake, and ratio-intake functions for intravenous cocaine self-administration in the laboratory rat. We show that individual differences in drug self-administration originate from vertical shift in the dose-response function. Thus, no matter the dose, drug intake is very high in some "vulnerable" subjects and very low in other "resistant" ones. Vulnerable subjects, the upward shifted ones, would then have a higher chance to develop drug abuse also when high drug doses are available. In conclusion, these results provide a solid foundation for the existence of a drug-vulnerable phenotype relevant for the etiology of addiction.

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