J Neuroscience

2011 Nov 9;31(45):16473-82. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4013-11.2011.

Frohmader KS, Lehman MN, Laviolette SR, Coolen LM.


Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6A5C1, Canada.


Methamphetamine (Meth) users report having heightened sexual pleasure, numerous sexual partners, and engaging in unprotected sex due to loss of inhibitory control. This compulsive sexual behavior contributes to increased prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, but the neural basis for this is unknown. We previously established a paradigm for compulsive sexual behavior in male rats in which visceral illness induced by lithium chloride was paired with sexual behavior (Davis et al., 2010; Frohmader et al., 2010a). The current study examined the effects of repeated Meth administration on sexual performance, compulsive sexual behavior, and sex or Meth reward. First, results demonstrated that seven daily administrations of 2 mg/kg, but not 1 mg/kg, Meth increased latencies to initiate mating. This impairment was evident 30 min after last Meth administration, but dissipated after 1 or 7 d of subsequent drug abstinence. Repeated 1 mg/kg Meth exposure resulted in compulsive sex-seeking behavior 2 weeks following last Meth administration. This effect was dependent on Meth administration being concurrent with sexual experience and was not observed in sexually experienced animals that received Meth alone. Moreover, concurrent Meth and sexual experience enhanced conditioned place preference (CPP) for Meth, and for concurrent Meth and mating compared with Meth or mating alone. In contrast, CPP for mating alone was decreased. Together, these data indicate that the association between drug use and mating may be required for expression of compulsive sexual behavior and is correlated with increased reward seeking for concurrent Meth exposure and mating.