Place Preference Test in Rodents

Sylvain Roux1, Christelle Froger1, Roger D. Porsolt1, Olga Valverde2, Rafael Maldonado2

1 Porsolt and Partners Pharmacology, Boulogne Billancourt, France, 2 Laboratori de Neurofarmacologia University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Pharmacology
Unit Number:  Unit 10.4
DOI:  10.1002/0471141755.ph1004s19
Online Posting Date:  February, 2003
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Conditioned place preference is a behavioral model currently used to measure the rewarding properties induced by the administration of a drug. In this paradigm, the rewarding properties of a compound are associated with the particular characteristics of a given environment. Advantages of this test are the absence of any instrumental learning and the possibility of evaluating reinforcing effects in the absence of the test substance. Due to the recent availability of multiple lines of genetically modified mice, this unit has been updated to include procedures for testing place preference in both rats and mice. Details are also provided for evaluating drug effects using this procedure.

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Table of Contents

  • Basic Protocol 1: Place Preference Test in Rats
  • Basic Protocol 2: Place Preference Test in Mice
  • Commentary
  • Figures
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Basic Protocol 1: Place Preference Test in Rats

  • Male Wistar rats (180 to 200 g at the beginning of the experiment)
  • Test compound(s) dissolved in physiological saline or suspended in 0.2% hydroxypropylmethylcellulose in physiological saline (for parenteral administration)
  • Vehicle
  • Transparent plastic (e.g., macrolon) cages (41 × 25 × 25–cm)
  • Video camera and videotape recorder
  • Six two‐compartment test apparatuses (Fig. ): experimental boxes (35 × 35 × 70–cm) with two compartments of equal size (35 × 35 × 35–cm) separated by a guillotine door (12 × 12–cm); each compartment is tactually and visually distinct (black‐and‐white striped walls with corrugated floors versus gray walls with smooth floors)
  • 60‐W red lights
  • Animal balance with accuracy of 1 g (e.g., Sartorius 1401.001.2)
  • 25‐G × 5/8‐in. (0.8 × 16–mm) syringes for intraperitoneal or subcutaneous injection (e.g., Terumo)
  • 23‐G × 1‐in. (0.6 × 25–mm) or 21‐G × 1.5‐in. (0.8 × 40–mm) needles for intraperitoneal or subcutaneous injection, respectively (e.g., Terumo)
  • Luer gastric probes with olive extremity (70–mm long × 1.5–mm oval diameter) for oral administration

Basic Protocol 2: Place Preference Test in Mice

  • Male mice (Swiss albino, C57/BL6, hybrids 50% 129/sv, 50% C57/BL6, etc.) weighing 25 to 30 g at the beginning of the experiment. Although it is typical to use males, female mice can also be used.
  • Test compound
  • Vehicle
  • Indirect white or red lights
  • Video camera and videotape recorder or another detection system (e.g., Videotrack; ViewPoint)
  • Two‐compartment apparatus (Fig. ). Connect each compartment (15 × 15 × 15–cm) to an intermediate triangular area by guillotine doors and cover with a transparent plastic cover to prevent mice from escaping the box. Boxes must be constructed of plastic with removable floors in order to adequately clean mouse feces and urine. Four distinctive sensory cues are necessary to differentiate each compartment: (1) wall and floor dressing (painted stripes and dots); (2) floor texture (plastic rough or smooth); (3) floor color (painted black or cream); (4) box orientation (60°angle). The combinations are as follows: (a) striped walls, rough and black floor; (b) dotted walls, smooth and cream color floor. The intermediate compartment is gray and has smooth walls and floor. At least two apparatuses can be used simultaneously in a given experiment; using four or six will further speed data collection. However, never use the same apparatus for male and female animals.
  • Animal balance for mice (with accuracy of 0.1 g)
  • Device for drug administration:
  •  For intraperitoneal or subcutaneous injection: 1‐ml sterile syringes (e.g., Plastipak from Becton Dickinson)
  •  For intraperitoneal or subcutaneous injection: needles 26‐G ×½–in. (0.45 × 12–mm) or 26‐G × ⅜–in. (0.45 × 10–mm) (e.g., Terumo or Microlance)
  •  For oral administration: Luer gastric probes with olive extremity for mice (Panlab)
  •  For intracerebroventricular administration: a cannula must be implanted, preferably in the third ventricle, using stereotaxic surgery (Kopf stereotaxic apparatus; see appendix 4A). In the case of the third ventricle, a cannula is positioned 0.3 mm caudal to bregma in the midline, and 3.0 mm deep. The cannula consists of a 30‐G dental needle (Sofijet) bent at a right angle 4.5 mm from the tip, cut 6 to 7 mm from the bend, and connected to polyethylene tubing (Tygon) filled with artificial cerebrospinal fluid solution ( appendix 2A). A Hamilton glass microsyringe will be required in order to perform the central microinjection in a volume of 2 µl over 60 sec (see Hutcheson et al., ). The perfusion system is maintained an additional 60 sec to allow diffusion of the drug into the third ventricle.
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