Animals that have chronically consumed alcohol and are subsequently deprived of it markedly increase their intake above basal levels when access to alcohol is reinstated. Such an effect, termed the alcohol deprivation effect (ADE), has been proposed to reflect (i) an obsessive–compulsive behavior, (ii) craving, or (iii) an increased reinforcing value of ethanol (EtOH). It has been reported that acetaldehyde, a highly reinforcing metabolite of EtOH, is generated in the brain by the action of catalase. Recent studies show that the administration of an anticatalase (shRNA)-encoding lentiviral vector into the brain ventral tegmental area (VTA) of naïve rats virtually abolishes (85 to 95%) their EtOH intake. It is hypothesized that the antireinforcing effect of the anticatalase vector will also inhibit the ADE.
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