Attenuation of sucrose reinforcement in dopamine D1 receptor deficient mice


: Dr Susan R. George, as above.


Dopaminergic systems are thought to mediate the rewarding and reinforcing effects of palatable food. However, the relative contribution of different dopamine receptor subtypes is not clear. We used dopamine D1 receptor deficient mice (D^{\,-/-}_{1}) and their wild-type and heterozygous littermates to study the role of the D1 receptor in palatable food reinforced behaviour using operant responding and free access paradigms. Non-deprived mice were trained to press a lever for sucrose pellets under three schedules of reinforcement including fixed ratios (FR-1 and FR-4) and a progressive ratio (PR). Responding on one lever was reinforced by the delivery of a sucrose pellet or solution while responding on a second lever had no programmed consequences. Initially, D1 mutant mice took longer to learn to discriminate between the two levers and had significantly lower operant responding for sucrose pellets and solution than wild-type and heterozygous mice under all schedules of reinforcement. Food deprivation enhanced responding on the active lever in all mice although it remained significantly lower in D^{\,-/-}_{1} mice than in control mice. Following extinction of sucrose reinforcement and reversal of the levers, D^{\,-/-}_{1} mice showed deficits in extinguishing and reversing previously learned responses. Home cage intake and preference of sucrose pellets and solutions when given under free-choice access paradigms were similar among the groups.

These results suggest that the dopamine D1 receptor plays a role in the motivation to work for reward (palatable food) but not in reward perception and is critical in learning new but relevant information and discontinuing previously learned responses.