Effects of serotonin-3 receptor antagonists on the intracranial self-administration of ethanol within the ventral tegmental area of Wistar rats
BACKGROUND Previous studies indicated that, under continuous access conditions, the 5-HT3 antagonist MDL 72222 (MDL) effectively reduced ethanol drinking of alcohol-preferring P rats. However, MDL was without effect when similar doses were tested under scheduled access conditions, unless the ethanol access period was randomly presented. This study examined the effects of MDL on operant responding for ethanol and water by adult male alcohol-preferring P rats. METHODS During the dark cycle, subjects in the first experiment were trained to respond concurrently for 15% ethanol and water on a fixed-ratio 5 (FR-5) and FR-1 schedule of reinforcement, respectively. Approximately 30 min before the 4-hr operant session, rats were injected subcutaneously (sc) with saline or MDL (1, 3, or 5 mg/kg). A second experiment tested the effects of 1 mg/kg MDL on operant responding for 15% ethanol in 1-hr sessions when operant access was given at a fixed time each day (fixed scheduled access, FSA group) or at variable time periods throughout the dark cycle (variable scheduled access, VSA group). RESULTS In the first experiment, only the 5 mg/kg dose of MDL decreased responding for ethanol (approximately 20%) during the first 30 min of the 4-hr session. This dose also reduced total 4-hr responding for ethanol and water. In the second experiment, the 1 mg/kg dose of MDL had no effect on operant responding by the FSA group, but significantly reduced ethanol responding by the VSA group. CONCLUSIONS These results suggest that 5-HT3 receptors may be involved in mediating the reinforcing effects of ethanol, and that temporal-environmental cues associated with the presentation of ethanol may be one factor involved in reducing the effectiveness of 5-HT3 antagonists to attenuate ethanol intake.