, 208:121 | Cite as

Effects of acute ethanol on β-endorphin release in the nucleus accumbens of selectively bred lines of alcohol-preferring AA and alcohol-avoiding ANA rats

  • Minh P. Lam
  • Harri Nurmi
  • Noora Rouvinen
  • Kalervo Kiianmaa
  • Christina GianoulakisEmail author
Original Investigation



The selectively bred lines of alcohol-preferring alko alcohol (AA) and alcohol-avoiding alko nonalcohol (ANA) rats have been used to demonstrate differences in relevant neurotransmitters which could account for their difference in alcohol consumption. Studies have demonstrated differences in distinct components of the endogenous opioid system in various brain regions associated with the process of reinforcement between the AA and ANA lines of rats.


The goal of this current study was to investigate the hypotheses that the AA and ANA rats will show differences in the release of β-endorphin at the level of nucleus accumbens (NAC) and in locomotor activity in response to acute systemic administration of ethanol.

Materials and methods

AA and ANA rats were unilaterally implanted with a guide cannula to aim microdialysis probes at the level of NAC. Intraperitoneal injections of 0.0, 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 g ethanol/kg body weight were administered. Dialysate samples were collected at 30-min intervals prior to and following the injection. Radioimmunoassay specific for β-endorphin was used to determine the dialysate β-endorphin content.


The 2.5-g/kg ethanol dose induced a transient increase in extracellular β-endorphin at the level of NAC of AA but not of ANA rats. The 2.5-g/kg ethanol dose also attenuated locomotor activity in the AA but not in the ANA rats.


The lack of an increase in the β-endorphin concentration in the NAC of ANA rats in response to ethanol may partially account for their lower alcohol consumption and lower alcohol-induced attenuation of locomotor activity compared to AA rats.


Alcohol Nucleus accumbens Opioid peptides beta-Endorphin AA ANA Alcohol preferring Alcohol avoiding Rat lines In vivo microdialysis 





Artificial cerebral spinal fluid


Alko alcohol


Alko nonalcohol


Analysis of variance


Adrenocorticotrophin hormone


Blood alcohol concentration


Bovine serum albumin


gamma-Aminobutyric acid






Nucleus accumbens






Ventral tegmental area



These studies were funded through grants from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and the Academy of Finland. The authors would like to thank Ms. Leena Tanner-Väisänen for her technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Minh P. Lam
    • 1
  • Harri Nurmi
    • 2
  • Noora Rouvinen
    • 2
  • Kalervo Kiianmaa
    • 2
  • Christina Gianoulakis
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)HelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Douglas Mental Health University InstituteVerdunCanada

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