Self-administration of agonists selective for dopamine D2, D3, and D4 receptors by rhesus monkeys

Mikhail N. Koffarnus, Gregory T. Collins, Kenner C. Rice, Jianyong Chen, James H Woods, Gail D Winger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Dopamine receptor mechanisms are believed to play a role in the reinforcing effects of cocaine and other drugs of abuse. The lack of receptor-selective agonists has made it difficult to determine the role of the individual dopamine receptors in mediating these reinforcing effects. In this study, rhesus monkeys with a history of intravenous cocaine self-administration were tested for the reinforcing effects of several D3-preferring agonists, a D 2-preferring agonist, and a D4 agonist. The D 2-preferring agonist did not maintain responding in any monkeys, and the D4 agonist was self-administered at low rates, just above those maintained by saline, in one monkey. The D3-preferring agonists were self-administered by approximately half of the animals, although at lower rates than cocaine. These results indicate that the apparent limited reinforcing effectiveness of D2-like agonists requires activity at D3 receptors. Previous data from this laboratory and others also suggest that these drugs may not serve as reinforcers directly; the behavior may be maintained by response-contingent delivery of stimuli previously paired with cocaine. The ability of drug-related stimuli to maintain responding apparently differs among monkeys and other organisms, and may be related to individual differences in drug-taking behavior in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-338
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • D-like agonists
  • reinforcing effects
  • rhesus monkey
  • self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology


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