6-OHDA-lesions of the nucleus accumbens disrupt the acquisition but not the maintenance of ethanol consumption in the alcohol-preferring P line of rats

Satoshi Ikemoto, William J. McBride, James M. Murphy, Larry Lumeng, Ting Kai Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Scopus citations


The aim of the present study was determine whether reduction of dopamine (DA) innervation to the nucleus accumbens (ACB) alters the maintenance end/or acquisition of ethanol drinking in female alcohol-preferring P rats. Compared with sham-lesioned animals, bilateral microinjections of 6-OHDA (12 μg/2.4 μl/site) into the ACB did not alter the consumption of 10% ethanol in rats that had prior experience of ethanol drinking, with both sham- and 6-OHDA- lesioned groups recovering to presurgical consumption levels at similar rates. On the other hand, the identical lesion procedure disrupted the acquisition of ethanol intake in rats with no ethanol-drinking experience prior to the lesions. A sham-lesioned group attained an ethanol intake of approximately 7 g/kg/day in 1 week, which was maintained over the following 2-week period, while the ethanol intake of the 6-OHDA-lesioned group was approximately 60% lower after 1 week and 30% lower at the end of 3 weeks. DA content of the ACB was 60% lower in both groups of the 6-OHDA-treated rats compared with the controls. The results suggest that different neural mechanisms may underlie the acquisition and maintenance of ethanol drinking behavior; the ACB DA system appears to play an important role in the acquisition of ethanol drinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1046
Number of pages5
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997



  • 6-Hydroxydopamine lesions
  • Alcohol self-administration
  • Alcohol-preferring P rats
  • Nucleus accumbens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology

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