Sardinian alcohol-preferring rats prefer
chocolate and sucrose over ethanol

Colombo G, Agabio R, Diaz G,
Fa M, Lobina C, Reali R, Gessa GL
C.N.R. Center for Neuropharmacology,
Cagliari, Italy.
Alcohol 1997 Nov-Dec; 14(6):611-5


The present study was aimed at determining whether the concurrent availability of highly palatable fluids (i.e., a chocolate-flavored drink and a sucrose solution) would alter voluntary ethanol drinking in selectively bred, alcohol-preferring sP and -nonpreferring sNP rats. Ethanol intake occurred under the three-bottle, free choice regimen between 10% (v/v) ethanol solution, tap water, and the palatable fluids for 24 h per day. When rats were given ethanol and water, but no alternative fluids, mean ethanol intake in sP rats ranged between 6 and 7 g/kg per day and mean preference ratio was steadily higher than 80%, whereas mean ethanol intake and preference ratio in sNP rats were constantly lower than 0.3 g/kg and 5%, respectively. In the presence of either the chocolate-flavored drink or sucrose solution, both prepared as isocaloric to the ethanol solution, absolute ethanol intake in sP rats declined by 60-70%; similarly, the preference ratio was reduced by 80-90%. Ethanol intake in sNP rats was unaffected by the simultaneous presentation of either palatable fluids. The results of the present study closely replicate those previously reported in genetically selected, ethanol-preferring HAD rats; however, they differ from those of ethanol-preferring P rats, which were reported to maintain high levels of ethanol intake and preference in the presence of highly palatable fluids. These results are discussed in terms of a) an alternative reinforcement partially substituting for the reinforcing properties of ethanol in sP rats, resulting in a less urgent need of ethanol, and b) genetic animal models of alcoholism diverging in some neurochemical and behavioral traits (e.g., response to the presentation of palatable fluids), which might parallel the different types of alcoholism observed in humans.

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