The inbred Fischer (F344) and Lewis (LEW) rats, while originally developed as animal models for cancer and tissue transplantation research, have since been used to study genetic differences in a variety of physiological and behavioral endpoints. In this context, LEW rats show greater sensitivity to the aversive effects of cocaine as compared to F344 rats in a conditioned taste avoidance procedure. Like cocaine, 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV; "bath salts") acts as a dopamine transport blocker and possesses aversive properties, making it a good candidate for assessing whether the aforementioned strain differences with cocaine would generalize to drugs with similar biochemical action. Accordingly, male F344 and LEW rats were exposed to a novel saccharin solution followed by injections of one of four doses of MDPV in a taste avoidance procedure. Over the four saccharin/MDPV pairings during conditioning, core body temperatures were also assessed. Similar to previous research, MDPV induced robust dose-dependent taste avoidance, although no effect of strain was observed. MDPV also produced hyperthermia that was independent of strain and unrelated to the conditioned taste avoidance. These findings argue for a complex influence of multiple (and likely interacting) monoaminergic systems mediating MDPV-induced taste avoidance in the two strains and suggest different mechanisms of avoidance learning for cocaine and MDPV.
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