The neurobiology of alcoholism in genetically selected rat models
TING-KAI LI, is a distinguished professor of medicine and biochemistry at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana Rats selectively bred for their tendency to drink large or small quantities of alcohol are a useful model for investigators examining the possible neurobiological processes underlying alcoholism. Studies with the alcohol-preferring (P) and alcohol-nonpreferring (NP) and the high-alcohol-drinking (HAD) and low-alcohol-drinking (LAD) pairs of rat lines developed at Indiana University have illustrated differences in several behavioral and neurobiological characteristics associated with alcohol consumption. Specifically, compared with alcohol-avoiding rats, rats with an affinity for alcohol have a greater sensitivity to the stimulatory effects of low to moderate doses and a reduced sensitivity to the negative effects of high doses. Rats that voluntarily drink large quantities of alcohol also acquire tolerance to alcohol's aversive effects. In addition, these rats differ from their alcohol-avoiding counterparts in the levels of several chemical mediators (i.e., neurotransmitters) found in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and the endogenous opioids.
Alcohol Research and Health
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