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Pharmacological reviews

Intracranial self-stimulation to evaluate abuse potential of drugs.


PMID 24973197

Abstract

Intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) is a behavioral procedure in which operant responding is maintained by pulses of electrical brain stimulation. In research to study abuse-related drug effects, ICSS relies on electrode placements that target the medial forebrain bundle at the level of the lateral hypothalamus, and experimental sessions manipulate frequency or amplitude of stimulation to engender a wide range of baseline response rates or response probabilities. Under these conditions, drug-induced increases in low rates/probabilities of responding maintained by low frequencies/amplitudes of stimulation are interpreted as an abuse-related effect. Conversely, drug-induced decreases in high rates/probabilities of responding maintained by high frequencies/amplitudes of stimulation can be interpreted as an abuse-limiting effect. Overall abuse potential can be inferred from the relative expression of abuse-related and abuse-limiting effects. The sensitivity and selectivity of ICSS to detect abuse potential of many classes of abused drugs is similar to the sensitivity and selectivity of drug self-administration procedures. Moreover, similar to progressive-ratio drug self-administration procedures, ICSS data can be used to rank the relative abuse potential of different drugs. Strengths of ICSS in comparison with drug self-administration include 1) potential for simultaneous evaluation of both abuse-related and abuse-limiting effects, 2) flexibility for use with various routes of drug administration or drug vehicles, 3) utility for studies in drug-naive subjects as well as in subjects with controlled levels of prior drug exposure, and 4) utility for studies of drug time course. Taken together, these considerations suggest that ICSS can make significant contributions to the practice of abuse potential testing.

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