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Alcohol. 2014 Sep;48(6):587-93. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2014.06.002. Epub 2014 Jun 7.

Reducing effect of the Chinese medicinal herb, Salvia miltiorrhiza, on alcohol self-administration in Sardinian alcohol-preferring rats.

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Neuroscience Institute, National Research Council of Italy, Section of Cagliari, S.S. 554, km. 4,500, I-09042 Monserrato, CA, Italy.
Indena S.p.A., I-20139 Milan, MI, Italy.
Neuroscience Institute, National Research Council of Italy, Section of Cagliari, S.S. 554, km. 4,500, I-09042 Monserrato, CA, Italy. Electronic address:


The dried roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza are highly valued in Chinese folk medicine for use in the prevention and treatment of a series of ailments. Previous studies have demonstrated that administration of standardized extracts of S. miltiorrhiza selectively reduced excessive alcohol drinking and relapse-like drinking in selectively bred Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) rats. The present study was designed to extend these findings on the "anti-alcohol" properties of S. miltiorrhiza extracts to operant procedures of oral alcohol self-administration. Two independent groups of sP rats were trained to lever-respond on an FR4 schedule of reinforcement for alcohol (15%, v/v) or sucrose (1-3%, w/v) in daily 30 min sessions. Once responding had stabilized, rats were tested under the fixed ratio 4 (FR4) schedule of reinforcement (index of alcohol reinforcing properties) and the progressive ratio (PR) schedule of reinforcement (index of alcohol motivational properties). Treatment with S. miltiorrhiza extract (0, 50, 100, and 200 mg/kg, intragastrically [i.g.]) markedly reduced lever responding for alcohol, amount of self-administered alcohol, and breakpoint for alcohol (defined as the lowest response requirement not achieved in the PR experiment). No dose of S. miltiorrhiza extract altered any parameter of sucrose self-administration. These results a) demonstrate that treatment with S. miltiorrhiza extract selectively reduced the reinforcing and motivational properties of alcohol in sP rats and b) extend to operant procedures of alcohol self-administration previous data on the "anti-alcohol" effects of S. miltiorrhiza extracts. These data strengthen the notion that novel pharmacological approaches for treatment of alcohol use disorders may stem from natural substances.


Alcohol self-administration; Fixed ratio (FR) and progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement; Reinforcing and motivational properties of alcohol; Salvia miltiorrhiza extract; Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) rats

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