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Innovations: Microdialysis Combined with Operant Self-Administration

Ethanol is a commonly abused drug, and the destructive nature of alcohol abuse and addiction is well-known.   In continuing efforts to learn more about the process of ethanol consumption in the brain, the laboratory of Dr. Reuben Gonzales at the University of Texas at Austin uses operant self-administration techniques in Long-Evans rats.  They have recently published a JOVE article, Microdialysis of Ethanol During Operant Ethanol Self-administration and Ethanol Determination by Gas Chromatography, describing how they use microdialysis in conjunction with self-administration to measure neurochemical and ethanol levels in specific regions of the brain.

Microdialysis is a sampling technique used to determine the chemical components of fluid in extracellular space (Chefer et al., 2009).  The combination of microdialysis with behavioral assessment is especially useful to the study of ethanol self-administration, as the measurements of neurochemical and ethanol levels are measured in real time with behavioral analysis.  This makes it possible to correlate concentrations of ethanol or neurochemicals in the brain with rat behavior.

With this technique, the Gonzales laboratory has successfully generated data showing the temporal pattern of ethanol reaching the brain.  This technique should go a long way in determining the effects of alcohol on behavior, with a long-term goal of explaining how ethanol self-administration goes from “controlled to uncontrolled.”

Further Reading:

Chefer VI, Thompson AC, Zapata A, Shippenberg TS.  (2009).  Overview of brain microdialysis. Curr Protoc Neurosci. Apr; Chapter 7:Unit7.1.

Schier, C. J., Mangieri, R. A., Dilly, G. A., Gonzales, R. A. (2012).  Microdialysis of Ethanol During Operant Ethanol Self-administration and Ethanol Determination by Gas ChromatographyJ. Vis. Exp. (67), e4142, DOI: 10.3791/4142.


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