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Effects of Withania somnifera on oral ethanol self-administration in rats

Peana, Alessandra T.a; Muggironi, Giuliaa; Spina, Lilianab; Rosas, Michelab; Kasture, Sanjay B.f; Cotti, Elisabettac; Acquas, Eliob,d,e

doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000078

Recent evidence has shown that Withania somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng), a herbal remedy used in traditional medicine, impairs morphine-elicited place conditioning. Here, we investigated the effect of W. somnifera roots extract (WSE) on motivation for drinking ethanol using operant self-administration paradigms. Wistar rats were trained to self-administer ethanol (10%) by nose-poking. The effects of WSE (25–75 mg/kg) were evaluated on acquisition and maintenance, on ethanol breakpoint under a progressive-ratio schedule of reinforcement and on the deprivation effect and reinstatement of seeking behaviours. Moreover, on the basis of the recent suggestion of an involvement of GABAB receptors in WSE central effects, we studied the interaction between WSE and GABAB ligands. The effect of WSE on saccharin (0.05%) oral self-administration was also tested. The results show that WSE reduced the acquisition, maintenance and breakpoint of ethanol self-administration. WSE also reduced the deprivation effect, reinstatement of ethanol-seeking behaviours and saccharin reinforcement. Furthermore, the GABAB receptor antagonist, phaclofen, counteracted the ability of WSE to impair the maintenance of ethanol self-administration. These findings show that WSE, by an action that may involve GABAB receptors, impairs motivation for drinking ethanol and suggest that further investigations should be performed to determine whether W. somnifera may represent a new approach for the management of alcohol abuse.

aDepartment of Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Sassari, Sassari

Departments of bLife and Environmental Sciences

cSurgical Sciences

dCentre of Excellence on Neurobiology of Addiction

eNational Institute of Neuroscience – INN, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy

fSanjivani College of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Kopargaon, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence to Alessandra T. Peana, PhD, Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Sassari, Via Muroni, 23, 07100 Sassari, Italy E-mail: or Elio Acquas, PhD, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, National Institute of Neuroscience, University of Cagliari, Via Ospedale, 72 I-09124 Cagliari, Italy E-mail:

Received March 7, 2014

Accepted June 24, 2014

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins