The Effects of Varenicline on Alcohol Seeking and Self-Administration in Baboons
Article first published online: 19 AUG 2013
Copyright © 2013 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 38, Issue 2, pages 376–383, February 2014
How to Cite
Kaminski, B. J. and Weerts, E. M. (2014), The Effects of Varenicline on Alcohol Seeking and Self-Administration in Baboons. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 38: 376–383. doi: 10.1111/acer.12233
- Issue published online: 28 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 19 AUG 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 16 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Received: 22 MAR 2013
- National Institutes of Health
- NIAAA. Grant Number: R01AA15971
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) may play a critical role in alcohol reinforcement and consumption. The effects of varenicline, an nAChR partial agonist, on alcohol seeking and self-administration responses were evaluated in 2 groups of baboons trained under a 3-component chained schedule of reinforcement (CSR).
Alcohol (4% w/v; n = 4; alcohol group) or a preferred nonalcoholic beverage (n = 4; control group) was available for self-administration only in component 3 of the CSR. Responses in component 2, required to gain access to alcohol, provided indices of seeking behavior. Varenicline (0.032 to 0.32 mg/kg; 0.32 mg/kg twice daily [BID]) and vehicle were administered before CSR sessions subchronically (5 consecutive days). Higher doses (0.56, 1.0 mg/kg) were attempted, but discontinued due to adverse effects.
Subchronic varenicline administration significantly (p < 0.05) decreased the seeking response rate and increased the time to complete the response requirement to gain access to the daily supply of alcohol at the higher doses (0.32 mg/kg, 0.32 mg/kg BID dosing) in the alcohol group compared with the control group. Mean number of drinks was significantly decreased (p < 0.05), but effects did not differ between groups. The pattern of drinking was characterized by a high rate during an initial bout. Number of drinks during and duration of the initial bout were significantly decreased in the alcohol group, compared with the control group, at 0.32 mg/kg (p < 0.05).
Varenicline may be clinically useful for reducing alcohol-seeking behaviors prior to alcohol exposure. Given the modest effects on drinking itself, varenicline may be better suited as a treatment in combination with a pharmacotherapy that significantly reduces alcohol consumption.