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Alcohol-preferring P rats do not exert higher compulsive drinking despite increased motivation to consume alcohol

Monday, September 22, 2014 — Poster Session I

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

FAES Academic Center



* FARE Award Winner


  • E Augier
  • H Sun
  • M Heilig


While drug addictions afflict a minority of human drug users, nearly all rats successfully acquire self-administration, a traditional rodent model of drug abuse. Recently, Ahmed and colleagues demonstrated a modified self-administration paradigm that offers repeated choices between a drug and a sugar alternative. This choice model may be a screen for compulsive drug use and has been generalized to alcohol drinking. 48 Wistar rats and 16 inbred Alcohol-preferring P rats were trained to self-administer 20% ethanol (EtOH). P rats consume significantly more 20% EtOH at baseline and have higher progressive ratio breakpoints. Rats were then trained in a mutually exclusive discrete choice procedure offering 20% EtOH and 0.2% saccharin, a non-caloric sweetener. After stabilization in the choice test, only minorities of P rats and Wistar rats prefer alcohol to saccharin, preferences that are not significantly different (19% vs 17%). These results indicate high consumption does not necessarily signify compulsion or addiction and question using P rats as an animal model of alcoholism. More generally, using the choice model to screen for compulsive animals and testing potential new pharmacotherapies to reduce drug choice percentage within this compulsive subset may prove fruitful for finding addiction treatments and discovering neurological correlates underlying alcoholism.

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