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      Animal models of alcoholism: neurobiology of high alcohol-drinking behavior in rodents.

      Critical reviews in neurobiology

      Adolescent, genetics, Receptors, Serotonin, Receptors, Opioid, Receptors, GABA, Receptors, Dopamine, Rats, Humans, Disease Models, Animal, Animals, physiopathology, etiology, Alcoholism, Alcohol Drinking, therapeutic use, Alcohol Deterrents, Adolescent Behavior

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          Abstract

          This review discusses efforts to develop rodent models for the study of neurobiological mechanisms underlying chronic alcohol drinking, alcoholism, and abnormal alcohol-seeking behavior. Selective breeding has produced stable lines of rats that reliably exhibit high and (for comparison purposes) low voluntary alcohol consumption. In addition, animal models of chronic ethanol self-administration have been developed in rodents, who do not have a genetic predisposition for high alcohol-seeking behavior, to explore environmental influences in ethanol drinking and the effects of physical dependence on alcohol self-administration. The selectively bred high-preference animals reliably self-administer ethanol by free-choice drinking and operantly respond for oral ethanol in amounts that produce pharmacologically meaningful blood alcohol concentrations (50 to 200 mg% and higher). In addition, the alcohol-preferring rats will self-administer ethanol by intragastric infusion. With chronic free-choice drinking, the high alcohol-preferring rats develop tolerance to the high-dose effects of ethanol and show signs of physical dependence after the withdrawal of alcohol. Compared with nonpreferring animals, the alcohol-preferring rats are less sensitive to the sedative-hypnotic effects of ethanol and develop tolerance more quickly to high-dose ethanol. Nonselected common stock rats can be trained to chronically self-administer ethanol following its initial presentation in a palatable sucrose or saccharin solution, and the gradual replacement of the sucrose or saccharin with ethanol (the sucrose/saccharin-fade technique). Moreover, rats that are trained in this manner and then made dependent by ethanol-vapor inhalation or liquid diet increase their ethanol self-administration during the withdrawal period. Both the selectively bred rats and common-stock rats demonstrate "relapse" and an alcohol deprivation effect following 2 or more weeks of abstinence. Systemic administration of agents that (1) increase synaptic levels of serotonin (5-HT) or dopamine (DA); (2) activate 5-HT1A, 5-HT2, D2, D3, or GABA(A) receptors; or (3) block opioid and 5-HT3 receptors decrease ethanol intake in most animal models. Neurochemical, neuroanatomical, and neuropharmacological studies indicate innate differences exist between the high alcohol-consuming and low alcohol-consuming rodents in various CNS limbic structures. In addition, reduced mesolimbic DA and 5-HT function have been observed during alcohol withdrawal in common stock rats. Depending on the animal model under study, abnormalities in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway, and/or the serotonin, opioid, and GABA systems that regulate this pathway may underlie vulnerability to the abnormal alcohol-seeking behavior in the genetic animal models.

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          10348615

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