The influence of mecamylamine on ethanol and sucrose self-administration

Matthew M. Ford, Andrea M. Fretwell, Jeffrey D. Nickel, Gregory P. Mark, Moriah N. Strong, Naomi Yoneyama, Deborah A. Finn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are believed to be critically involved in ethanol-related behaviors as well as in neurochemical responses to ethanol. However, discernment of nAChR contribution to ethanol reinforcement and consumption remains incomplete. The current studies examined the influence of the nAChR antagonist mecamylamine (MEC) on operant ethanol self-administration using a procedure that independently assessed appetitive and consumptive processes, and compared these findings to effects of MEC on sucrose self-administration. Male C57BL/6J (B6) mice were trained to respond for 30-min access to a retractable drinking tube containing either 10% v/v ethanol (10E) or 5% w/v sucrose (5S). Once trained, mice were habituated to saline injection and then treated with a series of MEC doses (0-8 mg/kg; i.p.) in a within-subject design. In a separate cohort, MEC was evaluated for its influence on locomotor activity. MEC dose-dependently reduced 10E and 5S self-administration. The suppression in ethanol intake was attributable to a reduction in bout frequency, whereas the attenuation in sucrose intake was due to a decrease in bout size. Doses of MEC (6-8 mg/kg) that altered drinking patterns were also found to impair locomotor activity. Although MEC non-selectively reduced 10E and 5S intakes in mice, there was some specificity in alterations of the underlying drinking pattern for each reinforcer. Assessment of drinking topography within an operant self-administration procedure may provide useful insights regarding the role of nAChR function in the regulation of ethanol consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-258
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Alcohol
  • Intake pattern
  • Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
  • Preference drinking
  • Reinforcement
  • Reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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