Differences in the reinstatement of ethanol seeking with ganaxolone and gaboxadol

M. J. Ramaker, M. M. Ford, T. J. Phillips, D. A. Finn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The endogenous neuroactive steroid allopregnanolone (ALLO) has previously been shown to induce reinstatement of ethanol seeking in rodents. ALLO is a positive allosteric modulator at both synaptic and extrasynaptic GABAA receptors. The contribution of each class of GABAA receptors in mediating reinstatement of ethanol seeking is unknown. The first aim of the present study was to determine whether ganaxolone (GAN), a longer-acting synthetic analog of ALLO, also promotes reinstatement of ethanol seeking. The second aim was to examine whether preferentially activating extrasynaptic GABAA receptors with the selective agonist gaboxadol (THIP) was sufficient to reinstate responding for ethanol in mice. Male C57BL/6J mice were trained to lever press for access to a 10% ethanol (v/v) solution (10E), using a sucrose-fading procedure. Following extinction of the lever-pressing behavior, systemic THIP (0, 4 and 6mg/kg) and GAN (0, 10, and 15mg/kg) were tested for their ability to reinstate ethanol-appropriate responding in the absence of 10E access. GAN significantly increased lever pressing on the previously active lever, while THIP did not alter lever-pressing behavior. The results of this study suggest that direct activation of extrasynaptic GABAA receptors at the GABA site is not sufficient to induce ethanol seeking in the reinstatement procedure. Future studies are necessary to elucidate the mechanisms and brain areas by which differences in the pharmacological activity of GAN and THIP at the GABAA receptor contribute to the dissimilarity in their effect on the reinstatement of ethanol seeking. Nonetheless, based on the increased use of these drugs in clinical trials across multiple disease states, the effects of GAN or THIP on alcohol seeking may be an important consideration if these drugs are to be used clinically in a population with a co-occurring alcohol use disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-187
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jul 11 2014


  • Alcohol
  • Allopregnanolone
  • Extrasynaptic
  • Relapse
  • THIP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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