Effects of Neuropeptide Y on Sucrose and Ethanol Intake and on Anxiety-Like Behavior in High Alcohol Drinking (HAD) and Low Alcohol Drinking (LAD) Rats


  • Supported by NIAAA Grants AA07611, AA10722, AA10717, and AA12857.

Nancy E. Badia-Elder, PhD, Department of Psychology, Purdue School of Science, IUPUI, 402 North Blackford St., Indianapolis, In 46202; Fax: 317-274-6756; E-mail: nbadiael@iupui.edu.


Background: In a previous study, neuropeptide Y (NPY) administered into the lateral ventricles decreased ethanol intake in alcohol-preferring (P) rats but not in alcohol-nonpreferring (NP) or unselected Wistar rats. The purpose of the present investigation is to extend these findings in selectively-bred high-alcohol-drinking (HAD)1 and low-alcohol-drinking (LAD)1 rats by examining the effects of intracerebroventricularly administered NPY on the elevated plus maze test of anxiety and on ethanol and sucrose intake.

Methods: Female HAD1 and LAD1 rats were surgically implanted with cannula into the lateral ventricle. Following recovery, a test of anxiety was conducted in which the rats (n= 12–13/group) received either artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) or NPY (10 μg) 10 min prior to a 5-min test on an elevated plus maze. Following anxiety testing, 11 HAD and 11 LAD rats were trained to self-administer ethanol (8% w/v), and 5 HAD and 8 LAD rats were trained to self-administer sucrose (2.5%) during daily 2-hr sessions. A within-subject design was used in which the rats were pretreated once a week with aCSF, 5 μg NPY, or 10 μg NPY prior to the drinking sessions.

Results: HAD and LAD rats treated with aCSF did not differ in time spent in open arms of the plus maze. NPY increased time spent on the open arms to similar degrees in both rat lines. HAD rats consumed more ethanol and sucrose than LAD rats. NPY increased sucrose intake in both rat lines. However, the same doses of NPY reduced ethanol intake in HAD but not in LAD rats.

Conclusion: The plus maze results indicated that selective breeding for high and low alcohol preference in the HAD1 and LAD1 rats, respectively, did not yield differences in anxiety-like behavior and in response to the anxiolytic effects of NPY. The increases in sucrose intake were consistent with the known orexigenic effects of NPY. The decreased ethanol intake following NPY administration in HAD rats was similar to previous observations with P rats and is consistent with the hypothesis that ethanol intake and NPY activity may be inversely related.