Low copulatory activity in selectively bred Sardinian alcohol-nonpreferring (sNP) relative to alcohol-preferring (sP) rats
Background. There is a growing consensus that similar neural mechanisms are involved in the reinforcing properties of natural rewards, like food and sex, and drugs of abuse. Rat lines selectively bred for high and low oral alcohol intake and preference have been useful for understanding factors contributing to excessive alcohol intake and may constitute proper animal models for investigating the neurobiological basis of natural rewarding stimuli.
Methods. The present study evaluated copulatory behavior in alcohol and sexually naïve Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) and -nonpreferring (sNP) male rats in three consecutive copulatory behavior tests.
Results. The main finding was that, under the conditions used in this study, sNP rats were sexually inactive relative to sP rats. To gain more information about the sexual behavior in sP rats, Wistar rats were included as an external reference strain. Only minor differences between sP and Wistar rats were revealed.
Conclusions. The reason behind the low copulatory activity of sNP rats remains to be elucidated, but may in part be mediated by innate differences in brain transmitter systems. The comparison between sP and Wistar rats may also suggest that the inherent proclivity to excessive alcohol drinking in sP rats may mainly be dependent on its anxiolytic properties, as previously proposed, and not changes in the reward system.
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