Background: We have developed an animal model of alcohol self-administration that initially employs schedule-induced polydipsia (SIP) to establish reliable ethanol consumption under open access (22 h/d) conditions with food and water concurrently available. SIP is an adjunctive behavior that is generated by constraining access to an important commodity (e.g., flavored food). The induction schedule and ethanol polydipsia generated under these conditions affords the opportunity to investigate the development of drinking typologies that lead to chronic, excessive alcohol consumption.
Methods: Adult male cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) were induced to drink water and 4% (w/v in water) ethanol by a Fixed-Time 300 seconds (FT-300 seconds) schedule of banana-flavored pellet delivery. The FT-300 seconds schedule was in effect for 120 consecutive sessions, with daily induction doses increasing from 0.0 to 0.5 g/kg to 1.0 g/kg to 1.5 g/kg every 30 days. Following induction, the monkeys were allowed concurrent access to 4% (w/v) ethanol and water for 22 h/day for 12 months.
Results: Drinking typographies during the induction of drinking 1.5 g/kg ethanol emerged that were highly predictive of the daily ethanol intake over the next 12 months. Specifically, the frequency in which monkeys ingested 1.5 g/kg ethanol without a 5-minute lapse in drinking (defined as a bout of drinking) during induction strongly predicted (correlation 0.91) subsequent ethanol intake over the next 12 months of open access to ethanol. Blood ethanol during induction were highly correlated with intake and with drinking typography and ranged from 100 to 160 mg% when the monkeys drank their 1.5 g/kg dose in a single bout. Forty percent of the population became heavy drinkers (mean daily intakes >3.0 g/kg for 12 months) characterized by frequent "spree" drinking (intakes >4.0 g/kg/d).
Conclusion: This model of ethanol self-administration identifies early alcohol drinking typographies (gulping the equivalent of 6 drinks) that evolve into chronic heavy alcohol consumption in primates (drinking the equivalent of 16 to 20 drinks per day). The model may aid in identifying biological risks for establishing harmful alcohol drinking.