Genetically correlated effects of selective breeding for high and low methamphetamine consumption

J. M. Wheeler, C. Reed, S. Burkhart-Kasch, N. Li, C. L. Cunningham, A. Janowsky, F. H. Franken, K. M. Wiren, J. G. Hashimoto, A. C. Scibelli, T. J. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Improved prevention and treatment of drug addiction will require deeper understanding of genetic factors contributing to susceptibility to excessive drug use. Intravenous operant self-administration methods have greatly advanced understanding of behavioral traits related to addiction. However, these methods are not suitable for large-scale genetic experiments in mice. Selective breeding of mice can aggregate 'addiction alleles' in a model that has the potential to identify coordinated effects of multiple genes. We produced mouse lines that orally self-administer high (MAHDR) or low (MALDR) amounts of methamphetamine, representing the first demonstration of selective breeding for self-administration of any psychostimulant drug. Conditioned place preference and taste aversion results indicate that MAHDR mice are relatively more sensitive to the rewarding effects and less sensitive to the aversive effects of methamphetamine, compared to MALDR mice. These results validate the oral route of self-administration for investigation of the motivational effects of methamphetamine and provide a viable alternative to intravenous self-administration procedures. Gene expression results for a subset of genes relevant to addiction-related processes suggest differential regulation by methamphetamine of apoptosis and immune pathways in the nucleus accumbens of MAHDR and MALDR mice. In each line, methamphetamine reduced an allostatic state by bringing gene expression back toward 'normal' levels. Genes differentially expressed in the drug-naï ve state, including Slc6a4 (serotonin transporter), Htr3a (serotonin receptor 3A), Rela [nuclear factor κB (NFκB)] and Fos (cFos), represent candidates whose expression levels may predict methamphetamine consumption and susceptibility to methamphetamine reward and aversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-771
Number of pages14
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Addiction
  • Conditioned place preference
  • Conditioned taste aversion
  • Drug reward
  • EQTL
  • Gene expression
  • Preference drinking
  • Selective breeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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