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Behav Pharmacol. 1996 Nov;7(7):669-674.

Ethanol anticipation enhances dopamine efflux in the nucleus accumbens of alcohol-preferring (P) but not Wistar rats.

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Department of Neuropharmacology. The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037.


It has been argued that the anticipation of ethanol consumption can activate reinforcement substrates involved in alcohol-seeking behavior. To test this hypothesis nucleus accumbens (NAc) dopamine (DA) efflux was monitored in alcohol-preferring (P) and Wistar rats. Rats from each line were divided into two groups: one trained to self-administer 0.05% saccharin and the other trained to self-administer 10% (w/v) ethanol. On the test day dopamine efflux was monitored in all animals during saccharin self-administration. In ethanol-expecting P rats, self-administration of saccharin produced a significant elevation in extracellular DA (150% of baseline within the first 15-20min). In contrast, a significant increase in extracellular DA was only observed during the final 30min of the test session in ethanol-expecting Wistar rats self-administering saccharin. The self-administration of saccharin in animals expecting the sweetener failed to elevate extracellular DA in both strains. Overall, these results suggest that the mere expectation of ethanol availability enhances the efflux of DA in the NAc of the P, but not the Wistar rat, which may play a role in the initiation or maintenance of ethanol seeking behavior in the P line.


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