Offspring of parents with an alcohol use disorder prefer higher levels of brain alcohol exposure in experiments involving computer-assisted self-infusion of ethanol (CASE)
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- Zimmermann, U.S., Mick, I., Laucht, M. et al. Psychopharmacology (2009) 202: 689. doi:10.1007/s00213-008-1349-7
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Acute alcohol effects may differ in social drinkers with a positive family history of alcohol use disorders (FHP) compared to FH negative (FHN) controls.
To investigate whether FHP subjects prefer higher levels of brain alcohol exposure than do FHN controls.
Materials and methods
Twenty-two young healthy nondependent social drinkers participated in two identical sessions of computer-assisted self-infusion of ethanol (CASE); the first for practicing the procedures, the second to test hypotheses. All 12 FHP (four women) and ten FHN (three women) participants received a priming exposure, increasing arterial blood alcohol concentration (aBAC) to 30 mg% at 10 min and decreasing it to 15 mg% at 25 min. A 2-h self-administration period followed, during which only the subjects could increase their aBAC by pressing a button connected to a computer controlling the infusion pump. Infusion rate profiles were calculated instantaneously to increase aBAC by precisely 7.5 mg% within 2.5 min after each button press, followed by a steady descent. Subjects were instructed to produce the same alcohol effects as they would do at a weekend party.
The mean and maximum aBAC during the self-administration period and the number of alcohol requests (NOAR) were significantly higher in the FHP vs. FHN participants.
This is the first laboratory experiment demonstrating higher alcohol self-administration in FHP compared to FHN subjects. A practice session increases the sensitivity of CASE experiments for detection of subtle differences in human alcohol self-administration.