Despite worldwide consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol, the neural mechanisms that mediate the transition from use to abuse are not fully understood.
Here, we conducted a high-through put screen of the amygdala proteome in mice after moderate alcohol drinking (n = 12/group) followed by behavioral studies (n = 6–8/group) to uncover novel molecular mechanisms of the positive reinforcing properties of alcohol that strongly influence the development of addiction.
Two-dimensional difference in-gel electrophoresis with matrix assisted laser desorption ionization tandem time-of-flight identified 29 differentially expressed proteins in the amygdala of nondependent C57BL/6J mice following 24 days of alcohol drinking. Alcohol-sensitive proteins included calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II alpha (CaMKIIα) and a network of functionally linked proteins that regulate neural plasticity and glutamate-mediated synaptic activity. Accordingly, alcohol drinking increased α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isooxazole receptor (AMPAR) in central amygdala (CeA) and phosphorylation of AMPAR GluA1 subunit at a CaMKII locus (GluA1-Ser831) in CeA and lateral amygdala. Further, CaMKIIα-Thr286 and GluA1-Ser831 phosphorylation was increased in CeA and lateral amygdala of mice that lever-pressed for alcohol versus the nondrug reinforcer sucrose. Mechanistic studies showed that targeted pharmacologic inhibition of amygdala CaMKII or AMPAR activity specifically inhibited the positive reinforcing properties of alcohol but not sucrose.
Moderate alcohol drinking increases the activity and function of plasticity-linked protein networks in the amygdala that regulate the positive reinforcing effects of the drug. Given the prominence of positive reinforcement in the etiology of addiction, we propose that alcohol-induced adaptations in CaMKIIα and AMPAR signaling in the amygdala may serve as a molecular gateway from use to abuse.
Background-Systemic modulation of Group I and II metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) regulate ethanol self-administration in a variety of animal models. Although these receptors are expressed in reward-related brain regions, the anatomical specificity of their functional involvement in ethanol self-administration remains to be characterized. This study sought to evaluate the functional role of Group I (mGluR5) and Group II (mGluR2/3) in mesocorticolimbic brain regions in ethanol self-administration.
One of the critical mechanisms by which alcohol heightens aggression involves forebrain serotonin (5-HT) systems, possibly via actions on 5-HT1A receptors. The present experiments tested the hypothesis that activating 5-HT1A receptors by selective agonists will block the aggression-heightening effects of ethanol. Initially, the selective antagonist WAY 100635 was used to assess whether or not the changes in aggressive behavior after treatment with 8-OH-DPAT and flesinoxan result from action at the 5-HT1A receptors. Resident male CFW mice engaged in aggressive behavior (i.e. attack bites, sideways threats, tail rattle) during 5-min confrontations with a group-housed intruder male. Quantitative analysis of the behavioral repertoire revealed systematic reductions in all salient elements of aggressive behavior after treatment with 8-OH-DPAT (0.1-0.3 mg/kg, i.p.) or flesinoxan (0.1-1.0 mg/kg, i.p.). The 5-HT1A agonists also reduced motor activities such as walking, rearing and grooming, although to a lesser degree. Pretreatment with the antagonist WAY 100635 (0.1 mg/kg, i.p.) shifted the agonist dose-effect curves for behavioral effects to the right. In a further experiment, oral ethanol (1.0 g/kg, p.o.) increased the frequency of attacks in excess of 2 SD from their mean vehicle level of attacks in 19 out of 76 resident mice. Low doses of 8-OH-DPAT (0.03-0.3 mg/kg) and flesinoxan (0.1, 0.3, 0.6 mg/kg), given before the ethanol treatment, attenuated the alcohol-heightened aggression in a dose-dependent fashion. By contrast, these low 5-HT1A agonist doses affected motor activity in ethanol-treated resident mice to a lesser degree, suggesting behavioral specificity of these anti-aggressive effects. The current results support the hypothesized significant role of 5-HT1A receptors in the aggression-heightening effects of alcohol. If these effects are in fact due to action at somatodendritic 5-HT1A autoreceptors, then the anti-aggressive effects would be associated with decreased 5-HT neurotransmission.
Background-Emerging evidence indicates that Group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR1 and mGluR5) differentially regulates ethanol self-administration in several rodent behavioral models. The purpose of this work was to further characterize involvement of Group I mGluRs in the reinforcing effects of ethanol using a progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement.
Extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK1/2) is a member of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway and a key molecular target for ethanol (EtOH) and other drugs of abuse.
The aim of the study was to assess the role of two MAPK pathways, ERK1/2 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), on the modulation of EtOH and sucrose self-administration.
Materials and methods
C57BL/6J mice were trained to lever press on a fixed-ratio 4 schedule with 9% EtOH/2% sucrose, or 2% sucrose, as the reinforcer. In experiments 1 and 2, mice were injected with the MEK1/2 inhibitor SL 327 (0–100 mg/kg) and the JNK inhibitor AS 6012452 (0–56 mg/kg) prior to self-administration. In experiment 3, SL 327 (0–100 mg/kg) was administered prior to performance on a progressive ratio (PR) schedule of EtOH reinforcement. In experiment 4, SL 327 and AS 601245 were injected 2 h before a locomotor test.
SL 327 (30 mg/kg) significantly increased EtOH self-administration without affecting locomotion. Higher doses of SL 327 and AS 601245 reduced EtOH-reinforced responding and locomotor activity. Reductions of both ligands on sucrose self-administration were due to decreases in motor activity. SL 327 pretreatment had no effect on PR responding.
ERK1/2 activity is more directly involved in modulating the reinforcing properties of EtOH than JNK activity due to its selective potentiation of EtOH-reinforced responding. The specificity of this effect to EtOH self-administration, rather than sucrose self-administration, suggests that the mechanism by which ERK1/2 increases EtOH-reinforced responding does not generalize to all reinforcing solutions and is not due to increased motivation to consume EtOH.
The neuroactive steroid allopregnanolone appears to play an important role in alcohol-heightened aggression. Moreover, the upward shift of the aggression-heightening effects of alcohol and the downward shift at the maximally effective alcohol dose by allopregnanolone point to a shared mechanism for both positive modulators of the GABA(A) receptor complex.
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