Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Neuroscience Institute

First Advisor

Kyle Frantz

Second Advisor

Shahab Shamsi

Third Advisor

Aaron Roseberry


Cocaine addiction is a public health crisis without lasting treatments to prevent relapse, and the adolescent stage of development is associated with risky behavior, such as drug use. The gut-brain axis may be a new target for addiction treatments. Short and medium chain fatty acids (SMCFA) are produced by bacteria in the gut and communicate to the brain, thereby influencing drug reinforcement. This study hypothesized that SMCFA concentrations are reduced by antibiotic-induced gut bacterial depletion and altered by cocaine self-administration in adolescent and adult male Wistar rats. A new method of capillary electrophoresis coupled with indirect photometric detection (CE-IPD) was utilized to estimate SMCFA concentrations in fecal samples from ABX- and/or cocaine-experienced rats. Results suggest that some SMCFAs decline with bacterial depletion in adults, are influenced by cocaine in adolescents, and modestly increase over adolescence in treatment-naïve rats. SMCFA should be investigated as possible routes for gut-brain communication in addiction.


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