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Physiol Behav. 1996 Feb;59(2):319-24.

Role of taste aversion in calcium channel inhibitor-induced suppression of saccharin and alcohol drinking in rats.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine 27599-7178, USA.


L-type calcium (Ca2+) channel inhibitors suppress drinking of highly preferred solutions of simple carbohydrates, saccharin, or alcohol. The present study was designed to examine whether this decrease in drinking behavior can be explained by the development of consummatory aversion. In the first experiment, the propensity of Ca2+ channel inhibitors to induce conditioned taste aversion (CTA) to 0.1% saccharin was examined using two saccharin/drug injection pairings in saccharin-naive rats. We compared three chemically different drugs: diltiazem, isradipine, and nicardipine. A dose-dependent CTA was observed after both conditioning sessions for all three drugs tested. Interestingly, the lowest dose of nicardipine (i.e., 1.25 mumol/kg), significantly increased saccharin intake. A nonsignificant trend to increase saccharin intake was also observed with the lowest dose of isradipine. We then examined whether nicardipine could similarly induce CTA to a novel taste of alcohol (6%, v/v). The drug failed to produce a significant effect. In the third experiment, we found that nicardipine did not induce CTA (or preference) if the saccharin taste was familar to rats. In the final experiment, the interaction of nicardipine (1.25 and 2.5 mumol/kg) with the ethanol (1.5 g/kg)-induced CTA to saccharin was investigated. The higher dose of nicardipine potentiated the aversive effect of ethanol in the test. Overall, the present results suggest that CTA does not play a major role in Ca2+ channel inhibitor-induced suppression of drinking behavior.

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