The reinforcing properties of ethanol are quantitatively enhanced inadulthood by peri-adolescent ethanol, but not saccharin, consumption in female alcohol-preferring (P) rats

Jamie E. Toalston, Gerald A. Deehan, Sheketha R. Hauser, Eric A. Engleman, Richard L. Bell, James M. Murphy, William J. McBride, Zachary A. Rodd

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10 Scopus citations


Alcohol drinking during adolescence is associated in adulthood with heavier alcohol drinking and an increased rate of alcohol dependence. Past research in our laboratory has indicated that peri-adolescent ethanol consumption can enhance the acquisition and reduce the rate of extinction of ethanol self-administration in adulthood. Caveats of the past research include reinforcer specificity, increased oral consumption during peri-adolescence, and a lack of quantitative assessment of the reinforcing properties of ethanol. The current experiments were designed to determine the effects of peri-adolescent ethanol or saccharin drinking on acquisition and extinction of oral ethanol self-administration and ethanol seeking, and to quantitatively assess the reinforcing properties of ethanol (progressive ratio). Ethanol or saccharin access by alcohol-preferring (P) rats occurred during postnatal day (PND) 30-60. Animals began operant self-administration of ethanol or saccharin after PND 85. After 10 weeks of daily operant self-administration, rats were tested in a progressive ratio paradigm. Two weeks later, self-administration was extinguished in all rats. Peri-adolescent ethanol consumption specifically enhanced the acquisition of ethanol self-administration, reduced the rate of extinction for ethanol self-administration, and quantitatively increased the reinforcing properties of ethanol during adulthood. Peri-adolescent saccharin consumption was without effect. The data indicate that ethanol consumption during peri-adolescence results in neuroadaptations that may specifically enhance the reinforcing properties of ethanol during adulthood. This increase in the reinforcing properties of ethanol could be a part of biological sequelae that are the basis for the effects of adolescent alcohol consumption on the increase in the rate of alcoholism during adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-518
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015



  • Adolescence
  • Alcoholism
  • Operant
  • Progressive ratio
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Medicine(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Toxicology
  • Health(social science)

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