Drug DiscriminationDrug Discrimination Studies in Rats


Most, if not all, abused drugs produce a discriminative cue in animals. This response, which displays a high degree of pharmacological selectivity, can be employed to determine whether the animals can distinguish between the novel substance and known drugs of abuse. Thus, drug discrimination studies can be used to characterise the psychoactive effects of new drugs. 

Test drugs that generalise to, ie are recognised as the comparator drug, are likely to have a similar pharmacological mechanism of action and to produce similar subjective effects in humans. Since subjective effects play a major role in drug abuse, drug discrimination experiments can be used to predict the abuse potential of new drugs. Furthermore, as drug discrimination studies in animals and studies evaluating subjective effects in humans yield similar drug classifications, these studies provide important information which allows new drugs to be classified based on their predicted subjective effects in man.


RenaSci offers a two-choice lever-pressing operant drug discrimination test in rats. A wide range of drug cues are available including d-amphetamine, cocaine, (-)pentazocine, midazolam, phencyclidine and MDMA.


MDMA Drug DiscriminationPCP and Cocaine Drug Discrimination 

d-Amphetamine-cued Drug Discrimination Model


Studies performed to GLP.  

We have a proven track record in this area as shown by the fact that our drug discrimination studies and fully-audited reports have been included in successful FDA and EMA New Drug Applications.


Please contact us for further information about drug discrimination studies in rodents.




Heal et al. 2012a. Profiles of lisdexamfetamine and methylphenidate in rats trained to discriminate d-amfetamine from saline. Presented at the NCDEU Meeting, Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona, USA, 29th May-1st June, 2012.


Heal et al. 2012b. Profiles of lisdexamfetamine, methylphenidate and modafinil in rats trained to discriminate d-amfetamine from saline. Abstract No T102. Presented at the British Association for Psychopharmacology Summer Meeting, Harrogate, UK, 22nd-25th July 2012. (J. Psychopharm. Vol 26, Issue 8, August 2012).


Heal et al. 2013. Subjective and reinforcing effects of modafinil in rats. Abstract No 236. Presented at the 75th Annual Scientific Meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, San Diego, California, USA, 15th-20th June 2013. 


Heal et al. 2016. Investigation of the discriminative and reinforcing properties of the κ-opioid receptor agonist CR845 in rats. Program No. 819.04. Presented at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting, San Diego, California, USA, 12th-16th November 2016.


Heal et al. 2018. An investigation of the discriminative stimulus and reinforcing effects of cannabidiol in rats. Program No. 373.13. Presented at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting, San Diego, California, USA, 3rd-7th November 2018.


Menzaghi et al. 2016. Preclinical and clinical assessments of the abuse potential of the kappa-opioid receptor agonist CR845 suggest low abuse potential. Poster No 122. Presented at PAINWeek 2016, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 6th-10th September 2016. 


Calderon et al. 2015. Chapter 10. Regulatory framework and guidance to the evaluation of the abuse liability of drugs in the United States and Europe. In: Nonclinical Assessment of Abuse Potential for New Pharmaceuticals, 1st Edition. Carrie G Markgraf, Thomas J Hudzik and David J  Compton (Eds). Academic Press, Elsevier, pp 245-268, 2015.


Heal et al. 2013. A preclinical evaluation of the discriminative and reinforcing properties of lisdexamfetamine in comparison to D-amfetamine, methylphenidate and modafinil. Neuropharmacology 73:348-358. [PubMed]


Heal et al. 2018. Evaluation of the abuse potential of psychedelic drugs as part of the safety pharmacology assessment for medical use in humans. Neuropharmacology 142: 89-115, 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2018.01.049. [Epub 2018 Feb 8]. [PubMed]


Hutson et al. 2016. The effects in rats of lisdexamfetamine in combination with olanzapine on mesocorticolimbic dopamine efflux, striatal dopamine D2 receptor occupancy and stimulus generalization to a d-amphetamine cue .Neuropharmacology 101: 24-35. [PubMed]