Characterization of a pentylenetetrazol-like interoceptive stimulus produced by ethanol withdrawal

H. Lal, C. M. Harris, D. Benjamin, A. C. Springfield, S. Bhadra, M. W. Emmett-Oglesby

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Rats were trained with food reinforcement to discriminate the anxiogenic drug pentylenetetrazol (PTZ, 20 mg/kg) from saline in a two-lever-choice task. In Experiment 1, ethanol, 8.25% w/v was given by gavage (7/day) for 4 days, with doses titrated to maintain moderate intoxication. After termination of ethanol, the rats exhibited mild overt signs of withdrawal and, in discrimination tests with saline as the test substance, they selected the PTZ lever, an effect reversed by ethanol, 2 g/kg, and by diazepam, 5 mg/kg. In experiment 2, rats drank a nutritionally complete liquid diet containing ethanol, 4.5% w/v, for 1 week. They became tolerant to the intoxicating effect of ethanol, and blood ethanol concentration mounted with continued dosing. On termination of chronic ethanol, rats selected the PTZ lever before the onset of overt physical signs of withdrawal, and both measures returned to base line within 3 days. In Experiment 3 the percentage of rats selecting the PTZ lever after termination of ethanol depended upon the dose (up to 12.5 g/kg) and duration (up to a ceiling effect by 3 days) of ethanol administered chronically. These results indicate that a PTZ-like stimulus produced interoceptively can be demonstrated in the rat as an objective measure of ethanol withdrawal. This paradigm may provide insight into the symptom of anxiety associated with ethanol withdrawal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-518
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988


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