The Alcohol Deprivation Effect in C57BL/6J Mice is Observed Using Operant Self-Administration Procedures and is Modulated by CRF-1 Receptor Signaling

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The alcohol deprivation effect (ADE) is characterized by transient excessive alcohol consumption upon reinstatement of ethanol following a period of ethanol deprivation. While this phenomenon has been observed in rats using both bottle drinking (consummatory behavior) and operant self-administration (consummatory and appetitive “ethanol-seeking” behavior) procedures, ADE studies in mice have primarily relied on bottle drinking measures. Furthermore, the neurochemical pathways that modulate the ADE are not well understood. Therefore, we determined whether the ADE can be observed in C57BL/6J mice using operant self-administration procedures and if expression of the ADE is modulated by the corticotropin releasing factor-1 (CRF-1) receptor.


C57BL/6J mice were trained in a 2-hour operant self-administration paradigm to lever press for 10% ethanol or water on separate response keys. Between operant sessions, mice had access to ethanol in their homecage. Once stable responding occurred, mice were deprived of ethanol for 4 days and were then retested with ethanol in the operant paradigm for 3 consecutive days. Next, to assess the role of the CRF-1 receptor, mice were given intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection (0, 10, or 20 mg/kg) of the CRF-1 receptor antagonist CP-154,526 30 minutes before ADE testing. Additional experiments assessed (i) ADE responding in which the alternate response lever was inactive, (ii) the effects of CP-154,526 on self-administration of a 1% sucrose solution following 4 days of deprivation, and (iii) ADE responding in which mice did not received i.p. injections throughout the experiment.


Mice exhibited a significant increase in postdeprivation lever responding for ethanol with either a water reinforced or inactive alternate lever. Interestingly, i.p. injection of a 10 mg/kg dose of CP-154,526 protected against the ADE while not affecting lever responding for a sucrose solution. Finally, baseline and deprivation-induced increases of ethanol reinforced lever responding were greater in mice not given i.p. injections.


The ADE in C57BL/6J mice can be modeled using the operant self-administration paradigm and increased ethanol self-administration associated with the ADE is modulated by CRF-1 receptor signaling.

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