A multi-symptomatic model of heroin use disorder in rats reveals distinct behavioral profiles and neuronal correlates of heroin vulnerability versus resiliency.

Brittany N. Kuhn*, Nazzareno Cannella, Ayteria D. Crow, Veronica Lunerti, Arkobrato Gupta, Stephen J. Walterhouse, Carter Allen, Reda M. Chalhoub, Eric Dereschewitz, Analyse T. Roberts, Mackenzie Cockerham, Angela Beeson, Rusty W. Nall, Abraham A. Palmer, Gary Hardiman, Leah C. Solberg Woods, Dongjun Chung, Roberto Ciccocioppo, Peter W. Kalivas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other contribution

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Objective The behavioral and diagnostic heterogeneity within human opioid use disorder (OUD) diagnosis is not readily captured in current animal models, limiting translational relevance of the mechanistic research that is conducted in experimental animals. We hypothesize that a non-linear clustering of OUD-like behavioral traits will capture population heterogeneity and yield subpopulations of OUD vulnerable rats with distinct behavioral and neurocircuit profiles.Methods Over 900 male and female heterogeneous stock rats, a line capturing genetic and behavioral heterogeneity present in humans, were assessed for several measures of heroin use and rewarded and non-rewarded seeking behaviors. Using a non-linear stochastic block model clustering analysis, rats were assigned to OUD vulnerable, intermediate and resilient clusters. Additional behavioral tests and circuit analyses using c-fos activation were conducted on the vulnerable and resilient subpopulations.Results OUD vulnerable rats exhibited greater heroin taking and seeking behaviors relative to those in the intermediate and resilient clusters. Akin to human OUD diagnosis, further vulnerable rat sub- clustering revealed subpopulations with different combinations of behavioral traits, including sex differences. Lastly, heroin cue-induced neuronal patterns of circuit activation differed between resilient and vulnerable phenotypes. Behavioral sex differences were recapitulated in patterns of circuitry activation, including males preferentially engaging extended amygdala stress circuitry, and females cortico-striatal drug cue-seeking circuitry.Conclusion Using a non-linear clustering approach in rats, we captured behavioral diagnostic heterogeneity reflective of human OUD diagnosis. OUD vulnerability and resiliency were associated with distinct neuronal activation patterns, posing this approach as a translational tool in assessing neurobiological mechanisms underpinning OUD.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputbioRxiv Preprint Server
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2024


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