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Alcohol. 1999 Jun-Jul;18(2-3):131-7.

Effects of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists on reinforced and nonreinforced responding for ethanol in rats.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Physiology of the Nervous System, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland.


Results of several recent studies indicate that the discriminative stimulus effects of ethanol are related, at least partially, to ethanol-induced decrease in the N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor function. The role of NMDA receptors in ethanol reinforcement remains still unclear. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of two novel NMDA receptor antagonists in rats lever pressing for 8% ethanol in the oral self-administration procedure. In addition, the effects of the drugs on intensity of nonreinforced responding for ethanol (i.e., "experimental craving") were examined in the extinction procedure. To assess selectivity of the drugs' actions the same range of doses was tested in rats lever pressing for water (control experiments). A low-affinity, uncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonist, MRZ 2/579 (2.5-7.5 mg/kg) selectively and dose-dependently decreased ethanol self-administration. This compound exerted also selective effects on nonreinforced responding for ethanol with lower dose (2.5 mg/kg) increasing and higher dose (5 mg/kg) suppressing operant behavior in the extinction procedure. MRZ 2/579 (5 mg/kg) did not alter open field activity when given in combination with either saline or ethanol (0.5-1 g/kg). In contrast, a glycineB site antagonist, MRZ 2/576 (2.5-7.5 mg/kg) did not produce any selective effects on either reinforced or nonreinforced lever pressing for ethanol. The present results suggest that MRZ 2/579 may selectively suppress both ethanol self-administration and experimental ethanol craving.

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