Developmental stress elicits preference for methamphetamine in the spontaneously hypertensive rat model of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Background: Developmental stress has been hypothesised to interact with genetic predisposition to increase the risk of developing substance use disorders. Here we have investigated the effects of maternal separation-induced developmental stress using a behavioural proxy of methamphetamine preference in an animal model of attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder, the spontaneously hypertensive rat, versus Wistar Kyoto and Sprague–Dawley comparator strains. Results: Analysis of results obtained using a conditioned place preference paradigm revealed a significant strain × stress interaction with maternal separation inducing preference for the methamphetamine-associated compartment in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Maternal separation increased behavioural sensitization to the locomotor-stimulatory effects of methamphetamine in both spontaneously hypertensive and Sprague–Dawley strains but not in Wistar Kyoto rats. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that developmental stress in a genetic rat model of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may foster a vulnerability to the development of substance use disorders.