Autonomic activation associated with ethanol self-administration in adult female P rats

Richard L. Bell, Zachary A. Rodd, Jamie E. Toalston, David L. McKinzie, Lawrence Lumeng, Ting Kai Li, William J. McBride, James M. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


The present study examined changes in heart rate (HR) prior to and during limited access ethanol drinking in adult female P rats. P rats were implanted with radio-telemetric transmitters to measure HR. Daily testing involved a 90-min pre-test period (water only available) and a subsequent 90-min test period [either water (W) or ethanol available]. After a week of habituation, one ethanol group had access to ethanol for 7 weeks (CE), and another ethanol group had access for 4 weeks, was deprived for 2 weeks and then had access for a final week (DEP). Analyses of HR revealed that CE and DEP rats had significantly higher HR than W rats during test periods that ethanol was present and that DEP rats displayed higher HR during the early test period of the ethanol deprivation interval, as well. These data indicate that ethanol drinking induces HR activation in adult female P rats, and that this activation can be conditioned to the test cage environment, paralleling reports on contextual conditioning and cue-reactivity in alcoholics exposed to alcohol-associated stimuli. Therefore, this behavioral test may prove advantageous in screening pharmacotherapies for reducing craving and relapse, which are associated with cue-reactivity in abstinent alcoholics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008


  • Activation
  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol-preferring rats
  • Autonomic
  • Contextual conditioning
  • Cue-reactivity
  • Heart rate
  • Stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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