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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 Jul;232(14):2631-41. doi: 10.1007/s00213-015-3899-9. Epub 2015 Mar 15.

Oxytocin and MDMA ('Ecstasy') enhance social reward in rats.

Author information

1
School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, A18, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia.

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Oxytocin (OT), vasopressin (AVP) and 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'Ecstasy') all increase social interaction in rats, perhaps by enhancing the rewarding value of social encounters.

OBJECTIVES:

Here, we used the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm to assess the intrinsic rewarding effects of OT, AVP and MDMA, and whether these effects are enhanced by the presence of a conspecific, or a dynamic, tactile object (a tennis ball).

METHODS:

Adult male rats received conditioning sessions in a CPP apparatus twice a day (vehicle at 10 a.m., drug at 3 p.m.). Experiment 1 involved conditioning with OT (0.5 mg/kg, intraperitoneal (i.p.)), AVP (0.005 mg/kg, i.p.) or MDMA (5 mg/kg, i.p.). Experiments 2 and 3 involved conditioning with the same treatments but in the presence of a conspecific receiving the same treatment (social-CPP) or in the presence of a tennis ball (object-CPP), respectively. Conditioned place preference was assessed 24 h, 2 weeks and 4 weeks later.

RESULTS:

OT, AVP and MDMA did not produce a conventional CPP. However, when the conditioning environment also contained a conspecific both OT and MDMA induced a significant CPP lasting for at least 4 weeks. Rats given OT and MDMA also developed a more modest yet significant CPP for the environment where they encountered a tennis ball.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results indicate that OT and MDMA can augment the rewarding effects of social interaction, but also interaction with a dynamic and tactile non-social object. AVP does not condition social- or object-CPPs and may promote social proximity by inducing generalized anxiety and defensive aggregation.

PMID:
25772337
DOI:
10.1007/s00213-015-3899-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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