Oral operant ethanol self-administration in the absence of explicit cues, food restriction, water restriction and ethanol fading in C57BL/6J mice.

PMID 26268145


Mouse models of ethanol (EtOH) self-administration are useful to identify genetic and biological underpinnings of alcohol use disorder. These experiments developed a novel method of oral operant EtOH self-administration in mice without explicitly paired cues, food/water restriction, or EtOH fading. Following magazine and lever training for 0.2 % saccharin (SAC), mice underwent nine weekly overnight sessions with lever pressing maintained by dipper presentation of 0, 3, 10, or 15 % EtOH in SAC or water vehicle. Ad libitum water was available from a bottle. Water vehicle mice ingested most fluid from the water bottle in contrast to SAC vehicle mice, which despite lever pressing demands, drank most of their fluid from the liquid dipper. Although EtOH in SAC vehicle mice showed concentration-dependent increases of g/kg EtOH intake, lever pressing decreased with increasing EtOH concentration and did not exceed that of SAC vehicle alone at any EtOH concentration. Mice reinforced with EtOH in water ingested less EtOH than mice reinforced with EtOH in SAC. EtOH in water mice, however, showed concentration-dependent increases in g/kg EtOH intake and lever presses. Fifteen percent EtOH in water mice showed significantly greater levels of lever pressing than water vehicle mice and a significant escalation of responding across weeks of exposure. Naltrexone pretreatment reduced EtOH self-administration and intake in these mice without altering responding in the vehicle control condition during the first hour of the session. SAC facilitated EtOH intake but prevented observation of EtOH reinforcement. Water vehicle unmasked EtOH's reinforcing effects.