Original Investigation

Psychopharmacology

, Volume 202, Issue 4, pp 689-697

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)

  • Ulrich S. ZimmermannAffiliated withDepartment of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine, Central Institute of Mental HealthDepartment of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden Email author 
  • , Inge MickAffiliated withDepartment of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine, Central Institute of Mental HealthDepartment of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden
  • , Manfred LauchtAffiliated withDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health Email author 
  • , Victor VitvitskiyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine
  • , Martin H. PlaweckiAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine
  • , Karl F. MannAffiliated withDepartment of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine, Central Institute of Mental Health
  • , Sean O’ConnorAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of MedicineR.L. Roudebush VA Medical Center

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Abstract

Rationale

Acute alcohol effects may differ in social drinkers with a positive family history of alcohol use disorders (FHP) compared to FH negative (FHN) controls.

Objectives

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Keywords

Alcoholism Ethanol Self-administration Genetic risk Sensitivity Tolerance Freibier CASE