• Article

Preclinical abuse potential assessment of flibanserin Effects on intracranial self-stimulation in female and male rats

Introduction: Flibanserin is a serotonin receptor subtype 1A agonist and 2A antagonist that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating female sexual interest and arousal disorder. Little is known about the abuse potential of flibanserin.

Aim: To examine abuse-related effects of flibanserin in rats using an intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) procedure previously used to evaluate the abuse potential of other drugs.

Methods: Adult female and male Sprague-Dawley rats with electrodes implanted in the medial forebrain bundle were trained to press a lever for electrical brain stimulation under a "frequency-rate" ICSS procedure. In this procedure, increasing frequencies of brain stimulation maintain increasing rates of responding. Drugs of abuse typically increase (or "facilitate") ICSS rates and produce leftward and upward shifts in ICSS frequency-rate curves, whereas drugs that lack abuse potential typically do not alter or only decrease ICSS rates. Initial studies determined the potency and time course of effects on ICSS produced by acute flibanserin administration (1.0, 3.2 and 10.0 mg/kg). Subsequent studies determined the effects of flibanserin (3.2-18 mg/kg) before and after a regimen of repeated flibanserin administration (5.6 mg/kg/d for 5 days). Effects of the abused stimulant amphetamine (1.0 mg/kg) were examined as a positive control.

Main Outcome Measures: Flibanserin effects on ICSS frequency-rate curves in female and male rats were examined and compared with the effects of amphetamine.

Results: Baseline ICSS frequency-rate curves were similar in female and male rats. Acute and repeated administrations of flibanserin produced only decreases in ICSS rates, and rate-decreasing effects of the highest flibanserin dose (10 mg/kg) were greater in female than in male rats. In contrast to flibanserin, amphetamine produced an abuse-related increase in ICSS rates that did not differ between female and male rats.

Conclusion: These results suggest that flibanserin has low abuse potential. In addition, this study suggests that female rats might be more sensitive than male rats to the rate-decreasing effects of high flibanserin doses. Copyright (C) 2016, International Society for Sexual Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Lazenka, M. F., Blough, B. E., & Negus, S. S. (2016). Preclinical abuse potential assessment of flibanserin: Effects on intracranial self-stimulation in female and male rats. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13(3), 338-349. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2015.12.031