Microinjection of baclofen and CGP7930 into the ventral tegmental area suppresses alcohol self-administration in alcohol-preferring rats

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Systemic administration of the orthosteric agonist, baclofen, and several positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of the GABAB receptor has repeatedly been reported to decrease operant oral alcohol self-administration in rats. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the contribution of the mesolimbic dopamine system to the reducing effect of baclofen and GABAB PAMs on the reinforcing properties of alcohol. To this end, baclofen or the GABAB PAM CGP7930 were microinjected into the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of selectively bred, Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) rats trained to self-administer alcohol. Baclofen (0, 0.03, 0.1, and 0.3μg) or CGP7930 (0, 5, 10, and 20μg) were microinjected via indwelling unilateral guide cannula aiming at the left hemisphere of the VTA. Treatment with baclofen resulted in a dose-related suppression of the number of lever-responses for alcohol and the amount of self-administered alcohol. No dose of baclofen altered rat motor-performance, evaluated by the inverted screen test immediately before the self-administration session. Treatment with CGP7930 halved the number of lever-responses for alcohol and amount of self-administered alcohol, with no effect on rat motor-performance. Site-specificity was investigated testing the effect of microinjection of baclofen and CGP7930 into the left hemisphere of deep mesencephalic nucleus: compared to vehicle, neither 0.3μg baclofen nor 20μg CGP7930 altered lever-responding for alcohol and amount of self-administered alcohol. Collectively, the results of the present study suggest the involvement of GABAB receptors located in the VTA in the mediation of alcohol reinforcing properties in sP rats.

This article is part of the “Special Issue Dedicated to Norman G. Bowery”.

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