, Volume 189, Issue 2, pp 175–186 | Cite as

Dissociation between opioid and CRF1 antagonist sensitive drinking in Sardinian alcohol-preferring rats

  • Valentina SabinoEmail author
  • Pietro Cottone
  • George F. Koob
  • Luca Steardo
  • Mei J. Lee
  • Kenner C. Rice
  • Eric P. ZorrillaEmail author
Original Investigation



The role of positive vs negative ethanol reinforcement in ethanol intake of Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) rats is unclear.


To test the hypothesis that spontaneous ethanol self-administration of sP rats was sensitive to the opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone, whereas withdrawal-induced, but not spontaneous, ethanol self-administration would be sensitive to corticotropin-releasing factor1 (CRF1) antagonists, implicating differential roles for positive and negative reinforcement, respectively.


Male sP rats operantly (FR1, 30 min/day) self-administered ethanol (10% v/v) until responding stabilized. One group (n=11) was made ethanol dependent through intermittent ethanol vapor exposure. Both nondependent (n = 10) and dependent rats received the CRF1 antagonist LWH-63 (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg, s.c.). Separate nondependent sP rats (n = 10) received the opioid antagonist naltrexone (16, 50, 150, and 450 μg/kg, s.c.). Finally, CRF1 antagonists (MJL-1-109-2, LWH-63, and R121919) were studied for their actions on home-cage ethanol drinking in nondependent sP rats (n = 6–8/group) under continuous, limited-access, or stressed conditions.


Naltrexone potently reduced ethanol self-administration in nondependent sP rats. LWH-63 reduced heightened ethanol self-administration of vapor-sensitive, dependent sP rats. CRF1 antagonists did not reduce ethanol intake in nondependent sP rats. R121919 (10 mg/kg, s.c.) retained antistress activity in sP rats, blunting novelty stress-induced suppression of ethanol intake.


Spontaneous ethanol self-administration of sP rats was opioid dependent with CRF1 receptors implicated in withdrawal-induced drinking. Opioid and CRF1 receptors play different roles in ethanol reinforcement and perhaps the ethanol addiction cycle. Such distinctions may apply to subtypes of alcoholic patients who differ in their motivation to drink and ultimately treatment response.


Sardinian alcohol-preferring or sP rat Ethanol or alcohol intake Genetic or selectively bred animal model Anxiety or stress Corticotropin-releasing factor or Corticotropin-releasing hormone or CRF or CRH CRF1 receptor antagonist or CRH1 receptor antagonist Opioids Naltrexone Withdrawal or abstinence Dependence 



This is manuscript number 18046 from The Scripps Research Institute. The authors gratefully recognize the technical assistance of Molly Brennan, Maury Cole, Robert Lintz, and Maegan Mattock and the editorial assistance of Mike Arends.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valentina Sabino
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Pietro Cottone
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • George F. Koob
    • 1
  • Luca Steardo
    • 2
  • Mei J. Lee
    • 3
  • Kenner C. Rice
    • 3
  • Eric P. Zorrilla
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences DepartmentSP30-2400, The Scripps Research InstituteLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Physiology and PharmacologyUniversity of Rome La SapienzaRomeItaly
  3. 3.Laboratory of Medicinal ChemistryNational Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesBethesdaUSA
  4. 4.Harold L. Dorris Neurological Research InstituteThe Scripps Research InstituteLa JollaUSA

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