Ketaset-Rompun Anesthesia Induces a Conditioned Taste Aversion in Rats

By Metzger, Mitchell M.; Flint, Robert W., Jr. et al. | The Psychological Record, Summer 1997 | Go to article overview

Ketaset-Rompun Anesthesia Induces a Conditioned Taste Aversion in Rats


Metzger, Mitchell M., Flint, Robert W., Jr., Riccio, David C., The Psychological Record


In an investigation comparing several types of anesthetics in laboratory rats, Wixson, White, Hughes, Lang, and Marshall (1987) reported that, when compared to other anesthetics, a combination of Ketamine-HCl (Ketaset) and Xylazine (Rompun) produced a greater depth of anesthesia and was well suited for procedures which required excessive manipulation of the organism. Coupled with the finding that there were minimal side effects (e.g., salivation, urination, etc.) associated with administration of Ketaset-Rompun, many researchers have adopted the use of this anesthetic for surgical and/or analgesic purposes in rodent preparations. However, despite the recent popularity of Ketaset-Rompun anesthesia, there have been few investigations examining the behavioral effects of this drug.

Several investigations have been reported for effects of anesthetics other than Ketaset-Rompun, but the results have been mixed. Rabin and Rabin (1984)investigated whether a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) (i.e., a rejection of a novel flavor after that flavor is paired with an illness-inducing substance) would occur under Pentobarbital anesthesia. Of particular interest in this experiment was a control group that was presented with a novel sucrose solution, immediately anesthetized with Pentobarbital, and maintained under a surgical plane of anesthesia for 47 hr. When tested for an aversion 1 day later, rats in this group did not demonstrate a CTA for the sucrose solution, whereas rats that were anesthetized and further administered radiation or lithium-chloride did show the CTA effect. This result suggests that Pentobarbital itself did not produce a CTA, and also indicates that anesthetization with Pentobarbital did not attenuate the induction of CTA. Additionally, Aguado, San Antonio, Perez, Del Valle, & Gomez (1994) examined whether the administration of Ketaset prior to conditioning would retard the acquisition of gustatory learning. One result from this study was that administration of Ketaset prior to conditioning impaired one-trial learning of an aversion to sucrose with a CTA paradigm (for similar results, see Welzl, Alessandri, & Battig, 1990). These results suggest that administration of certain anesthetic agents do not produce CTA, and they also indicate that certain anesthetic agents may in fact interfere with learning of taste aversions.

In contrast to studies that report a failure to obtain taste aversions with anesthetics, other investigations have reported that administration of anesthetics can induce weak aversions to novel flavors. Buresova and Bures (1977) investigated the effect of Allobarbital anesthesia on CTA in rats and reported that injections of this anesthetic following consumption of a novel saccharin solution produced a weak CTA effect. Similarly, Bermudez-Rattoni, Forthman, Sanchez, Perez, and Garcia (1988) reported that administration of Rompun produced a mild aversion to tomato juice when injected after consumption of the novel flavor. These results, in contrast to those reported by Rabin and Rabin (1984) and Aguado et al. (1994), suggest that certain types of anesthetics may induce mild taste aversions if paired with a novel flavor.

The aim of the present study was to examine further the effects of an anesthetic (Ketaset-Rompun) as the conditioning agent (US) in the CTA paradigm. As Ketaset-Rompun has recently become popular for use in rodent surgical preparations, the methodological implications for investigators using this drug within the CTA paradigm would be of potential importance, particularly if the anesthetic itself produces aversion to novel flavors. Experiment 1 examined whether Ketaset-Rompun anesthesia would produce a CTA if used as the conditioning agent, and Experiment 2 addressed whether Ketaset-Rompun-induced CTA followed the characteristic time-dependent function of CTA.

Experiment 1

The aim of this experiment was to determine if an injection of Ketaset-Rompun anesthesia, administered immediately after consumption of a novel sucrose solution, would produce a conditioned taste aversion in rats. …

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