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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002 Jun;72(3):699-706.

Naloxone nonselective suppression of drinking of ethanol, sucrose, saccharin, and water by rats.

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Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.


Naloxone, a nonselective opioid antagonist, has been demonstrated to reduce oral self-administration of ethanol (EtOH) in rats. Conflicting conclusions have been drawn about the effects of naloxone on consumption of non-EtOH control liquids. A preliminary meta-analysis found large and homogeneous effects of naloxone on EtOH consumption and heterogeneous effects on the consumption of control liquids. Although many of the authors concluded that their control liquid results were "not significant," when they were combined using meta-analytic techniques, it was apparent that there were some strong, but widely divergent, effect sizes. In the first experiment in the current study, 60 male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to drink 10% EtOH in tap water over 3 weeks of limited-access sessions. Then, their limited-access consumption was measured in single-bottle tests of four liquids (water, 10% EtOH in water, an isocaloric sucrose solution, and an "equally sweet" saccharin solution) 15 min following an intraperitoneal injection of either saline or 1.0 mg/kg naloxone. Every animal was tested 36 times in a counterbalanced order: three times for each liquid following an injection of naloxone and six times for each liquid following an injection of saline. There were distinct differences in the quantity of each liquid consumed in the saline trials. However, the suppression percentages for each liquid in the naloxone trials were identical ( approximately 50%). There were significant correlations, in the range of.23-.42, between the mean amount of each liquid consumed during saline trials for each animal and the suppression percentage during naloxone trials for the same animal and liquid. When the animals were divided into high, low, and medium drinkers for each liquid, the low drinkers demonstrated a much lower suppression after naloxone treatment than did the other two groups. The data confirm that blockade of opioid receptors suppresses consumption of both EtOH and non-EtOH liquids to a degree that is related to the amount of voluntary, untreated consumption of the liquids.

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