Alcoholism is a pervasive social problem, and thus understanding factors which regulate alcohol (ethanol) reward is important for designing effective therapies. One putative regulatory system includes the kappa opioid receptor (KOR) and its endogenous ligand, dynorphin. Previously we demonstrated that acute ethanol increased preprodynorphin expression via brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in striatal neurons, and that blockade of the KOR attenuated decreases in ethanol intake observed following increased expression of BDNF (Logrip et al., 2008). As high doses of KOR agonists can generate an aversive state, we hypothesized that endogenous dynorphin may regulate ethanol intake by interfering with the rewarding properties of ethanol. We found that low, non-aversive doses of the KOR agonist U50,488H blocked the rewarding properties of ethanol during conditioning, thus impairing the acquisition of conditioned place preference. Importantly, we demonstrate that U50,488H also inhibited the conditioned increase in locomotor activation normally observed in the ethanol-paired chamber on test day. Taken together, these data indicate that the KOR/dynorphin system may acutely regulate ethanol intake via inhibition of the rewarding properties of ethanol.
It has been suggested that increased risk for testicular cancer occurring worldwide may be due to exposures during fetal development. Lifestyle or environmental exposures may be the most important predictors of risk. However, few studies have directly examined these exposures prospectively. The Child Health and Development Studies is a 40-year follow-up of 20,530 pregnancies occurring between 1959 and 1967. There were 20 cases of testicular cancer diagnosed through 2003 among sons with a maternal interview in early pregnancy. Cases were matched to three controls on birth year and race. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated with exact conditional logistic regression. Compared to controls, mothers of testicular cancer cases were more likely to drink alcohol (unadjusted odds ratio = 3.2, 95% confidence interval: 0.83, 15.48 for above versus below the median for controls) and less likely to drink coffee (unadjusted odds ratio = 0.19, 95% confidence interval: 0.02, 1.02 for above versus below the median). Case mothers were neither more nor less likely to smoke. While low power may limit interpretation of negative results, the prospective design minimizes bias. In this cohort, maternal serum testosterone in pregnancy was previously reported to be lower in women who drank alcohol. Since populations with high testicular cancer risk also have lower maternal testosterone, we suggest that testosterone could play a role in explaining the higher risk of son's testicular cancer among mothers who drank alcohol during pregnancy.
Testicular Cancer; Alcohol; Coffee; Smoking; Pregnancy; Prospective
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are often associated with structural and functional hippocampal abnormalities, leading to long-lasting learning and memory deficits. The mechanisms underlying these abnormalities are not fully understood. Here, we investigated whether ethanol exposure during the 3rd trimester-equivalent period alters spontaneous network activity that is involved in neuronal circuit development in the CA3 hippocampal region. This activity is driven by GABAA receptors, which can have excitatory actions in developing neurons as a consequence of greater expression of the Cl− importer, NKCC1, with respect to expression of the Cl− exporter, KCC2, resulting in high [Cl−]i. Rat pups were exposed to ethanol vapor from postnatal day (P) 2 to 16 (4 hr/day). Weight gain was significantly reduced in pups exposed to ethanol compared to control at P15 and 16. Brain slices were prepared immediately after the end of the 4-hr exposure on P4–16 and experiments were also performed under ethanol-free conditions at the end of the exposure paradigm (P17–22). Ethanol exposure did not significantly affect expression of KCC2 or NKCC1, nor did it affect network activity in the CA3 hippocampal region. Ethanol exposure significantly decreased the frequency (at P9–11) and increased the amplitude (at P5–8 and P17–21) of GABAA receptor-mediated miniature postsynaptic currents. These data suggest that repeated in vivo exposure to ethanol during the 3rd trimester-equivalent period alters GABAergic transmission in the CA3 hippocampal region, an effect that could lead to abnormal circuit maturation and perhaps contribute to the pathophysiology of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Fetal alcohol syndrome; development; transporter; GABA; synaptic
Recent studies have identified synaptic proteins that undergo synapse-to-nucleus translocation in response to neuronal activity that modulate protein synthesis. One such translational regulatory protein of the postsynaptic density (PSD) is AIDA-1d, which binds to PSD-95 via its C-terminus. Activation of synaptic NMDA receptors induces the cleavage of AIDA-1d, and the N-terminus is then shuttled to nuclear Cajal bodies where it plays a role in regulating global protein synthesis. Chronic ethanol exposure has been shown to increase the synaptic clustering of NMDA receptors and PSD-95. Here, we tested the hypotheses that AIDA-1d regulates chronic ethanol-induced increases in synaptic NMDA receptor expression. As reported, we found that AIDA-1 was highly enriched in dendritic spines and co-localized with PSD-95. Acute NMDA treatment increased AIDA-1 colocalization with p80 coilin, a marker of Cajal bodies. Chronic treatment (4 day) of cultures with ethanol (25 – 100 mM) or with the NMDA receptor antagonist AP-V (50 µM) enhanced the clustering of AIDA-1 at synaptic sites. However, chronic ethanol treatment (50 mM) in the presence of the NMDA receptor agonist NMDA (2.5 µM) prevented this increase. Surprisingly, PSD-95 did not seem to play a role in the synaptic distribution of AIDA-1 as this distribution was not affected by declustering PSD-95 from synapses in response to inhibition of palmitoylation. We found that lentiviral knockdown of AIDA-1d did not affect protein expression levels of NMDA receptor subunits GluN1, GluN1 C2’, or GluN2B. The results of this study demonstrate that synaptic AIDA-1 expression is enhanced by chronic ethanol exposure that can be prevented by concurrent stimulation of NMDA receptors. In addition, we found that the association of AIDA-1 with PSD-95 is not required for its localization to the PSD. Moreover, we found that AIDA-1 does not regulate protein expression levels or alternative splicing of the GluN1 subunit of NMDA receptors.
AIDA-1, chronic ethanol, synapse-to-nucleus signaling; NMDA receptors; Cajal bodies; PSD-95
Prenatal ethanol significantly heightens later alcohol consumption, but the mechanisms that underlie this phenomenon are poorly understood. Little is known about the basis of this effect of prenatal ethanol on the sensitivity to ethanol’s reinforcing effects. One possibility is that prenatal ethanol exposure makes subjects more sensitive to the appetitive effects of ethanol or less sensitive to ethanol’s aversive consequences. The present study assessed ethanol-induced second-order conditioned place preference (CPP) and aversion and ethanol-induced conditioned taste aversion (CTA) in infant rats prenatally exposed to ethanol (2.0 g/kg) or vehicle (water) or left untreated. The involvement of the κ opioid receptor system in ethanol-induced CTA was also explored. When place conditioning occurred during the ascending limb of the blood-ethanol curve (Experiment 1), the pups exposed to ethanol in utero exhibited greater CPP than untreated controls, with a shift to the right of the dose-response curve. Conditioning during a later phase of intoxication (30–45 min post-administration; Experiment 2) resulted in place aversion in control pups exposed to vehicle during late gestation but not in pups that were exposed to ethanol in utero. Ethanol induced a reliable and similar CTA (Experiment 3) in the pups treated with vehicle or ethanol during gestation, and CTA was insensitive to κ antagonism. These results suggest that brief exposure to a moderate ethanol dose during late gestation promotes ethanol-mediated reinforcement and alters the expression of conditioned aversion by ethanol. This shift in the motivational reactivity to ethanol may be an underlying basis of the effect of prenatal ethanol on later ethanol acceptance.
prenatal ethanol exposure; ethanol; second-order conditioning; aversion; preference
Ethanol treatment on postnatal day seven (P7) causes robust brain cell death and is a model of late gestational alcohol exposure (Ikonomidou et al., 2000). To investigate the long-term effects of P7 ethanol treatment on adult brain, mice received either two doses of saline or ethanol on P7 (2.5g/kg, s.c., 2 hours apart) and were assessed as adults (P82) for brain volume (using postmortem MRI) and cellular architecture (using immunohistochemistry). Adult mice that received P7 ethanol had reduced MRI total brain volume (4%) with multiple brain regions being reduced in both males and females. Immunohistochemistry indicated reduced frontal cortical parvalbumin immunoreactive (PV+IR) interneurons (18-33%) and reduced Cux1+IR layer II pyramidal neurons (15%) in both sexes. Interestingly, markers of adult hippocampal neurogenesis differed between sexes, with only ethanol treated males showing increased doublecortin and Ki67 expression (52 and 57% respectively) in the dentate gyrus, consistent with increased neurogenesis compared to controls. These findings suggest that P7 ethanol treatment causes persistent reductions in adult brain volume and frontal cortical neurons in both males and females. Increased adult neurogenesis in males, but not females, is consistent with differential adaptive responses to P7 ethanol toxicity between the sexes. One day of ethanol exposure, e.g. P7, causes persistent adult brain dysmorphology.
Alcohol; sex; neurogenesis; MRI; neurotoxicity; postnatal
The process of ethanol anticipation is a particularly important phenomenon that can determine subsequent drug-taking behavior. Recent studies suggest that systems within the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), during anticipation, may contribute to the goal-directed seeking of ethanol. The current investigation examined the possibility that the opioid peptide enkephalin (ENK), known to mediate some of the reinforcing properties of ethanol, may function in the mPFC during the anticipation of ethanol access. Using a limited access (3 h/d) paradigm for 10 days with 20% ethanol, Sprague-Dawley rats were first identified either as low drinkers (LD, <1.0 g/kg/3 h) or as high drinkers (HD, >2.0 g/kg/3 h) that exhibited a long-term phenotype of high ethanol consumption and a significant ethanol deprivation effect. During the anticipation period immediately preceding daily ethanol access, the HD rats compared to LD or Control animals with ad libitum ethanol access exhibited increased anticipatory behaviors, including greater exploratory behavior in a novel open field as revealed by significantly more time spent in the rearing position (+53–65%, p < 0.05) and increased number of rears made (+33–44%, p < 0.05) and greater novelty-seeking behavior in a hole-board apparatus revealed by an increase in total (+50–52%, p < 0.05) and novel nose pokes (+45–48%, p < 0.05). In the HD rats, analysis of the mPFC using real-time quantitative PCR showed significantly greater mRNA levels of ENK (p < 0.05) and the mu-opioid receptor (MOR) (p < 0.05), but not delta-opioid receptor (DOR), and this increase in ENK expression was found, using in situ hybridization, to occur specifically in the prelimbic (PrL) subregion of the mPFC. When injected into the PrL during the anticipation period, a MOR agonist but not DOR agonist significantly increased consumption of 20% ethanol (p < 0.05). These findings support the role of ENK, acting through MOR within the PrL to promote the anticipation and excessive consumption of ethanol.
Medial prefrontal cortex; Prelimbic cortex; Enkephalin; Ethanol anticipation; Mu opioid receptors; Delta opioid receptors
Reductions in measures of dendritic morphology in the agranular insular cortex have been identified as consequences of prenatal exposure to moderate levels of ethanol in the rat. Motivated by the strong connectivity between this region of frontal cortex and the striatum and a growing body of data linking specific components of the mesocortical/limbic system to effects of ethanol and ethanol self-administration, the current study investigated the effects of moderate fetal ethanol exposure on the dendritic morphology of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in several regions of the striatum. Throughout gestation, pregnant rat dams either consumed a saccharin solution (control) or achieved average daily blood ethanol concentrations of 84 mg% via voluntary consumption of a 5% ethanol solution. The brains of adult male offspring were extracted and processed for Golgi-Cox staining. MSNs from the dorsomedial striatum, dorsolateral striatum and the nucleus accumbens core and shell were sampled for analysis. Relative to saccharin controls, robust reductions in dendritic length and branching, but not spine density, were observed in the shell of the nucleus accumbens in fetal-ethanol-exposed rats. No significant prenatal ethanol effects were found in the other regions of the striatum. These findings suggest that exposure to moderate levels of ethanol in utero can have profound effects on brain regions related to reward processing and provide possible clues relevant to understanding increased self-administration of drugs of abuse in animals exposed to ethanol during brain development.
prenatal alcohol; Golgi-Cox; medium spiny neurons; mesolimbic dopamine system
The mu opioid receptor system is altered in alcohol dependent (AD) subjects. Cortisol responses to opioid receptor antagonists are assumed to impart information about opioid receptor activity. In the present study we examined naloxone-induced cortisol responses in 18 healthy control (HC) and 25 recently detoxified AD subjects and then correlated the cortisol response with mu opioid receptor availability across 15 brain regions using positron emission tomography (PET) and the mu opioid receptor selective ligand [11C] Carfentanil (CFN). On average the AD subjects required twice the dose of naloxone to induce a peak cortisol response compared to the HC subjects. Using the rising slope of the cortisol curve (placebo to peak) as a metric we then went on to examine the relationship between cortisol responses to naloxone and [11C]CFN BPND. There were significant negative relationships between cortisol and [11C]CFN binding potential (BPND) in multiple brain regions of HC subjects. However, cortisol responses did not correlate with [11C]CFN BPND across any brain region in AD subjects. In summary, naloxone imparts information about individual differences in mu opioid receptor availability throughout the mesolimbic system in healthy individuals. However pathways governing the relationship between naloxone-induced cortisol and mu opioid receptor availability are disrupted during early abstinence in AD subjects.
mu opioid receptors; naloxone; PET imaging; HPA axis; cortisol; alcoholism
Early childhood stress is a risk factor for the development of substance-abuse disorders. A nonhuman primate model of early life stress, social impoverishment through nursery-rearing rather than mother-rearing, has been shown to produce increased impulsive and anxiety-like behaviors, cognitive and motor deficits, and increased alcohol consumption. These behavioral changes have been linked to changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), a serotonin (5-HT) metabolite. The effects of different rearing conditions on ethanol drinking and three measures of 5-HT function in the central nervous system were evaluated, including CSF 5-HIAA levels and tissue levels of 5-HT and 5-HIAA in brain samples. Brain samples were taken from the dorsal caudate, putamen, substantia nigra (SN) pars reticulata, SN pars compacta and hippocampus. There was a clear effect of rearing condition on the 5-HT system. Overall 5-HIAA and 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio measures of 5-HT turnover were significantly lower in nursery reared compared to mother-reared animals. In addition, there was a strong within-subject correlation between CSF and brain tissue 5-HIAA levels. Ethanol drinking was greater in nursery reared monkeys, consistent with previous results. These findings show that CSF 5-HIAA measurements can be used to predict brain 5-HT activity that may be involved in behavioral outcomes such as anxiety and alcohol consumption. Thus, CSF sampling may provide a minimally invasive test for neurochemical risk factors related to alcohol abuse.
Serotonin; Metabolite; Stress; Tissue content; Putamen; Caudate; Substantia nigra; Hippocampus
Alcohol consumption and exposure to stressful life events activate similar neural pathways and thus result in several comparable physiological and behavioral effects. Alcoholics in treatment claim that life-stressors are the leading cause of continued drinking or relapse. However, few studies have investigated the interactive effects of stress and alcohol on cognitive behavior. The effects of restraint stress, alcohol, and stress in combination with alcohol were examined on a spatial memory test, the object placement (OP) task. In addition, intake levels were measured to determine if stress altered general consumption of alcohol. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to one of four conditions: no alcohol/no stress control (CON), stress alone (STR), alcohol alone (ALC), and STR + alcohol (STR+ALC). Following each restraint stress bout, the STR+ALC and the ALC groups were given access to 8% alcohol for 1-hour using the two-bottle choice limited access paradigm. As predicted,the STR+ALC group significantly increased alcohol consumption, while the ALC group had consistent drinking over the 10-day treatment. On the OP task, STR and ALC groups performed at chance levels, whereas the CON and STR+ALC groups significantly discriminated between objects in the new and old locations. These data show that stress increases alcohol intake and the intake of alcohol is associated with reduction of the stress-induced impairment of spatial memory. The data have important implications for the development of alcohol abuse and its treatment.
Alcohol; Stress; Object Placement; Spatial Memory; Limited Access
Acute ethanol-induced locomotor stimulation and ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization are two behavioral assays thought to model the rewarding effects of ethanol. Recent evidence suggests that GS39783, a GABAB positive allosteric modulator, may be effective at reducing both the rewarding and reinforcing effects of several drugs of abuse, including ethanol. The goal of this study was to determine if GS39783 was capable of altering acute ethanol-induced stimulation, and the induction and expression of ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization, without effecting basal locomotion levels. Several doses of GS39783 (ranging from 0–100 mg/kg, depending on experiment) were tested on adult male DBA/2J mice in four experiments using 3-day basal locomotion and acute ethanol stimulation paradigms, and 14-day induction and expression of ethanol sensitization paradigms. The results of experiment 1 are in agreement with current literature, suggesting that 30 mg/kg doses of GS39783 and lower do not alter basal locomotor activity. In experiment 2, we found that GS39783 significantly decreased acute ethanol stimulation, but only at the 30 mg/kg dose, supporting our hypothesis and other publications suggesting that GABAB receptors modulate acute ethanol stimulation. Contrary to our hypothesis, GS39783 did not alter the expression of locomotor sensitization. Additionally, repeated administration of GS39783 in conjunction with ethanol unexpectedly potentiated ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization. Further study of GS39783 is warranted as it may be a more tolerable treatment for alcoholism than full agonists, due to its behavioral efficacy at doses that lack sedative side effects. Our results add to current literature suggesting that the GABAB receptor system is indeed involved in the modulation of ethanol-induced locomotor stimulation and sensitization.
GS39783; locomotor sensitization; GABA; alcohol; mouse; stimulation
Alcohol and nicotine are often co-used and data from human and animals studies have demonstrated that common genes underlie responses to these two drugs. Recently, the genes that code for the subunits of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors have been implicated as a common genetic mediator for alcohol and nicotine responses. The mammalian genes that code for the α6 and β3 subunits of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (Chrna6 and Chrnb3, respectively) are located adjacent to each other on human and mouse chromosome 8. These subunits have gained attention as potential regulators of drug behaviors because of their expression in the striatum where they have been shown to modulate dopamine release. Human genetic studies have shown that variation in these genes is associated with alcohol phenotypes. In the current experiments, mice lacking the Chrna6 or Chrnb3 gene were tested for three ethanol behaviors: choice ethanol consumption, ataxia, and sedation. Wildtype (WT), heterozygous (HET), and knockout (KO) mice of each strain went through a standard 2-bottle choice drinking paradigm, the balance beam, and the Loss of Righting Reflex (LORR) paradigm. No genotypic effects on any of the 3 behavioral tasks were observed in Chrnb3 animals. While the Chrna6 gene did not significantly influence ethanol consumption (g/kg) or ataxia, mice lacking the α6 subunit took significantly longer to recover their righting reflex than WT animals. These data provide evidence that receptors containing this subunit modulate the sedative effects of ethanol. Further work examining other models of ethanol consumption and behavioral responses to ethanol is needed to fully characterize the role of these receptor subunits in modulating ethanol responses.
Ethanol; Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors; Ataxia; Sedation; Consumption
Alcohol is the 5th leading risk factor to the global disease burden and disability and about half of the global alcohol burden was attributable to injuries. Despite a large body of evidence documenting the associations between alcohol and injuries, data from Asian countries including South Korea are sparse. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between episodic heavy past-year drinking, problem drinking symptomatic of alcohol dependence and alcohol-related and intentional injuries. Data from 1,989 injured patients recruited for the WHO/NIAAA Collaborative Study on Alcohol and Injury in South Korea were analyzed with respect to the prevalence rates and associations between injuries and frequency of past-year episodic heavy drinking and problem drinking. In estimating the odds ratios (ORs) and the associated 95% confidence intervals between alcohol intake and injuries multivariable logistic models were employed to adjust for sociodemographic characteristics and selected drinking variables. All analyses were conducted using the SAS 9.2 software. Findings of this study were consistent with prior studies that the risk of alcohol-related or intentional injury was positively associated with the frequency of episodic heavy drinking. The magnitudes of the associations were larger with frequent consumption of 5+ drinks (OR=4.0 approximately) than with frequent consumption of 12+ drinks (OR=3.1). Strong associations were also noted between RAPS4-assessed alcohol dependence and alcohol-related and intentional injuries. Further, the prevalence of intentional injury and its association with alcohol increased sharply once the acute alcohol intake exceeded 90 ml. Our results were consistent with prior studies that episodic heavy consumption, acute intoxication and problem drinking are pervasive among emergency room patients. Results of our study also lent support for administering a single-item screener querying consumption of 5+ drinks at a sitting in the past 12 months as a triage tool in Korea.
emergency room (ER) study; episodic heavy drinking; problem drinking; alcohol-related and intentional injury
On November 18, 2011, the 16th annual Alcohol and Immunology Research Interest Group (AIRIG) meeting was held at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. The focus of this year’s meeting was alcohol’s effect on epigenetic changes and possible outcomes induced by these changes. Two sessions, which consisted of talks from invited speakers as well as presentations of selected abstracts, were held in addition to a poster session. Participants presented information on alcohol-induced alterations in histone modifications and gene expression along with immunologic responses to alcohol. Speakers shared new research specifically on histone deacetylase enzyme expression and modifications due to alcohol and the downstream effect of these modifications may have on gene expression and tissue damage. Additional studies suggested that alcohol exacerbates inflammation when combined with other insults such as infection, trauma, inhalation injury, and disease.
Alcohol; Epigenetics; Histone; Immune response; Inflammation
Alcohol consumption is a potential trigger for flare in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) flare because of alcohol’s pro-oxidant effects and its deleterious effects on gut barrier function. The association with alcohol consumption and IBD flare is unclear. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated the pattern of alcohol consumption and its self-reported effect on gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in patients with IBD. We recruited 129 consecutive patients: 52 patients with Crohn’s Disease, 38 patients with Ulcerative Colitis, and 39 patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). All participants completed a validated questionnaire on disease activity, the CDAI or UCAI respectively, validated questionnaires to quantify alcohol consumption by NIAAA criteria, and two structured questionnaires we designed to access patients’ perception of the effect of alcohol on their GI symptoms and on overall GI symptom severity. The pattern of current, light, moderate, and heavy alcohol consumption in inactive IBD was similar to the general US population. Specifically, 56 of 90 (62%) of inactive IBD patients were current drinkers, compared to 61% in the general US population. Of current drinkers, 75% of IBD (N=42), and 43% of IBS (N=9) reported a worsening of GI symptoms with alcohol consumption (p=0.01); however, overall GI symptom severity did not differ when compared to quantity of alcohol consumed. Patients with inactive IBD drink alcohol in quantities similar to the general population. Current drinkers with inactive IBD are more likely to report worsening of GI symptoms with alcohol than current drinkers with IBS.
Crohn’s Disease; Ulcerative Colitis; Alcohol Consumption
An increasing number of studies use functional MRI and blood oxygen level-dependent signal (BOLD) to investigate neurofunctional basis of acute alcohol effects on the brain. However, the BOLD signal reflects neural activity only indirectly as it depends on regional hemodynamic changes and is therefore sensitive to vasoactive substances such as alcohol. We used MRI-based pulsed arterial-spin labeling (PASL) method to quantify effects of acute intoxication on resting cerebral perfusion. Gender effects have not been previously examined and yet they are of particular interest given differences in hormonal dynamics, alcohol metabolism, and hemodynamic regulation. Nineteen young, healthy individuals (9 women) with no personal or familial alcohol- or drug-related problems served as their own controls by participating in both alcohol (0.6 g/kg ethanol for men, 0.55 g/kg for women) and placebo scanning sessions in a counterbalanced manner. Regionally specific effects of the moderate alcohol dose on gray matter perfusion were examined with voxel-wise and region-of-interest analyses suggesting an interaction between gender and alcohol beverage. Acute intoxication increased perfusion in bilateral frontal regions in men, but not in women. Under placebo, stronger cortical perfusion was observed in women compared to men primarily in the left hemisphere in frontal, parietal and temporal areas. These results emphasize gender differences and regional specificity of alcohol's effects of cerebral perfusion possibly due to interactive influences on hormonal, metabolic, and hemodynamic autoregulatory systems. Alcohol-induced perfusion increase correlated positively with impulsivity/antisocial tendencies, consistent with dopaminergic mediation of reward and its effects on cortical perfusion. Additional ASL studies are needed to investigate dose- and time-dependent effects of alcohol intoxication and gender on the hemodynamic factors that conjointly influence BOLD signal, in order to disambiguate the vascular/metabolic mechanisms from the neurally-based changes.
Cerebral blood flow; CBF; perfusion; MRI; ASL; alcohol; gender; impulsivity
Although the effects of alcohol on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) have been extensively studied in rodents, BDNF levels have rarely been measured in abstinent, alcohol-dependent (AD) individuals. Interpretation of reported group comparisons of serum BDNF levels is difficult due to limited information regarding analytical variance, biological variability, and the relative contribution of platelet and plasma pools to serum BDNF. Analytical variance (intra- and inter-assay coefficients of variation) of the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was characterized. Within- and between-subject variability, and group differences in serum and plasma BDNF, was assessed on three separate days in 16, 4-week abstinent AD individuals (7M/9F) and 16 social drinkers (SDs; 8M/8F). Significantly higher mean (±sd) serum BDNF levels were observed for the AD group compared to the SD (p = 0.003). No significant difference in mean baseline plasma BDNF levels was observed between AD and SD groups. The low analytical variance, high day-to-day within-individual stability and the high degree of individuality demonstrates the potential clinical utility of measuring serum BDNF levels. The low correlations that we observed between plasma and serum levels are congruent with their representing separate pools of BDNF. The observation of higher basal serum BDNF in the AD group without a concomitant elevation in plasma BDNF levels indicates that the elevated serum BDNF in AD patients is not due to greater BDNF exposure. Further research is warranted to fully elucidate mechanisms underlying this alteration and determine the utility of serum BDNF as a predictor or surrogate marker of chronic alcohol abuse.
Alcoholism; BDNF; ELISA; Plasma; Serum; Abstinence
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that stress and anxiety can influence the development of alcohol use disorders. This influence is believed to be due in part to persistent adaptations in discrete brain regions that underlie stress responsivity. One structure that has been proposed to be a site of important neuroadaptations underlying this behavior is the extended amygdala. The extended amygdala is a series of extensively inter-connected limbic structures including the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST). These structures are critical regulators of behavioral and physiological activation associated with anxiety. Additionally, numerous reports have suggested that these regions are involved in increased drinking behavior associated with chronic alcohol exposure and withdrawal. The focus of this review will be to discuss the role of the BNST in regulation of behavior, to provide some insight in to the circuitry of the BNST, and to discuss the actions of the biogenic amines, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, in the BNST.
Neuronal activity-dependent pentraxin (Narp) interacts with α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) glutamate receptors to facilitate excitatory synapse formation by aggregating them at established synapses. Alcohol is well-characterized to influence central glutamatergic transmission, including AMPA receptor function. Herein, we examined the influence of injected and ingested alcohol upon Narp protein expression, as well as basal Narp expression in mouse lines selectively bred for high blood alcohol concentrations under limited access conditions. Alcohol up-regulated accumbens Narp levels, concomitant with increases in levels of the GluR1 AMPA receptor subunit. However, accumbens Narp or GluR1 levels did not vary as a function of selectively bred genotype. We next employed a Narp knock-out (KO) strategy to begin to understand the behavioral relevance of alcohol-induced changes in protein expression in several assays of alcohol reward. Compared to wild-type mice, Narp KO animals: fail to escalate daily intake of high alcohol concentrations under free-access conditions; shift their preference away from high alcohol concentrations with repeated alcohol experience; exhibit a conditioned place-aversion in response to the repeated pairing of 3 g/kg alcohol with a distinct environment and fail to exhibit alcohol-induced locomotor hyperactivity following repeated alcohol treatment. Narp deletion did not influence the daily intake of either food or water, nor did it alter any aspect of spontaneous or alcohol-induced motor activity, including the development of tolerance to its motor-impairing effects with repeated treatment. Taken together, these data indicate that Narp induction, and presumably subsequent aggregation of AMPA receptors, may be important for neuroplasticity within limbic subcircuits mediating or maintaining the rewarding properties of alcohol.
alcohol; AMPA receptors; conditioning; escalation; Neuronal activity dependent pentraxin (Narp); alcohol intake
It is widely accepted that stress, anxiety, depression and alcohol abuse-related disorders are in large part controlled by corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) receptors. However, evidence is accumulating that some of the actions on these receptors are mediated not by CRF, but by a family of related Urocortin (Ucn) peptides Ucn1, Ucn2 and Ucn3. The initial narrow focus on CRF as the potential main player acting on CRF receptors appears outdated. Instead it is suggested that CRF and the individual Ucns act in a complementary and brain region-specific fashion to regulate anxiety-related behaviors and alcohol consumption. This review, based on a symposium held in 2011 at the research meeting on “Alcoholism and Stress” in Volterra, Italy, highlights recent evidence for regulation of these behaviors by Ucns. In studies on stress and anxiety, the roles of Ucns, and in particular Ucn1, appear more visible in experiments analyzing adaptation to stressors rather than testing basal anxiety states. Based on these studies, we propose that the contribution of Ucn1 to regulating mood follows a U-like pattern with both high and low activity of Ucn1 contributing to high anxiety states. In studies on alcohol use disorders, the CRF system appears to regulate not only dependence-induced drinking, but also binge drinking and even basal consumption of alcohol. While dependence-induced and binge drinking rely on the actions of CRF on CRFR1 receptors, alcohol consumption in models of these behaviors is inhibited by actions of Ucns on CRFR2. In contrast, alcohol preference is positively influenced by actions of Ucn1, which is capable of acting on both CRFR1 and CRFR2. Because of complex distribution of Ucns in the nervous system, advances in this field will critically depend on development of new tools allowing site-specific analyses of the roles of Ucns and CRF.
urocortin; corticotropin releasing hormone; alcoholism; anxiety; depression; addiction
This review represents the focus of a symposium that was presented at the “Alcoholism and Stress: A Framework for Future Treatment Strategies” conference in Volterra, Italy on May 3–6, 2011 and organized / chaired by Dr. Brendan M. Walker. The primary goal of the symposium was to evaluate and disseminate contemporary findings regarding the emerging role of kappa-opioid receptors (KORs) and their endogenous ligands dynorphins (DYNs) in the regulation of escalated alcohol consumption, negative affect and cognitive dysfunction associated with alcohol dependence, as well as DYN / KOR mediation of the effects of chronic stress on alcohol reward and seeking behaviors. Dr. Glenn Valdez described a role for KORs in the anxiogenic effects of alcohol withdrawal. Dr. Jay McLaughlin focused on the role of KORs in repeated stress-induced potentiation of alcohol reward and increased alcohol consumption. Dr. Brendan Walker presented data characterizing the effects of KOR antagonism within the extended amygdala on withdrawal-induced escalation of alcohol self-administration in dependent animals. Dr. Georgy Bakalkin concluded with data indicative of altered DYNs and KORs in the prefrontal cortex of alcohol dependent humans that could underlie diminished cognitive performance. Collectively, the data presented within this symposium identified the multifaceted contribution of KORs to the characteristics of acute and chronic alcohol-induced behavioral dysregulation and provided a foundation for the development of pharmacotherapeutic strategies to treat certain aspects of alcohol use disorders.
Alcohol; Anxiety; Central Nucleus of the Amygdala; Cognitive Dysfunction; Decision Making; Dependence; Depression; Dynorphin; Extended amygdala; Impulsivity; Kappa Opioid Receptor; Negative Affect; Negative Reinforcement; norbinaltorphimine (nor-BNI); Nucleus Accumbens; Opioid; Orbitofrontal Cortex; Prefrontal Cortex; Place Preference; Self-administration; Stress; Withdrawal
This article represents one of five contributions focusing on the topic “Plasticity and neuroadaptive responses within the extended amygdala in response to chronic or excessive alcohol exposure” that were developed by awardees participating in the Young Investigator Award Symposium at the “Alcoholism and Stress: A Framework for Future Treatment Strategies” conference in Volterra, Italy on May 3–6, 2011 that was organized/chaired by Drs. Antonio Noronha and Fulton Crews and sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. This review discusses the dependence-induced neuroadaptations in affective systems that provide a basis for negative reinforcement learning and presents evidence demonstrating that escalated alcohol consumption during withdrawal is a learned, plasticity-dependent process. The review concludes by identifying changes within extended amygdala dynorphin/kappa-opioid receptor systems that could serve as the foundation for the occurrence of negative reinforcement processes. While some evidence contained herein may be specific to alcohol dependence-related learning and plasticity, much of the information will be of relevance to any addictive disorder involving negative reinforcement mechanisms. Collectively, the information presented within this review provides a framework to assess the negative reinforcing effects of alcohol in a manner that distinguishes neuroadaptations produced by chronic alcohol exposure from the actual plasticity that is associated with negative reinforcement learning in dependent organisms.
Anxiety; Dependence; Dynorphin; Extended Amygdala; Extracellular matrix; Kappa-opioid receptor; Matrix metalloproteinase; Negative reinforcement; Nucleus accumbens; Stress
Chronic and excessive alcohol drinking lead to alcohol dependence and loss of control over alcohol consumption, with serious detrimental health consequences. Chronic alcohol exposure followed by protracted withdrawal causes profound alterations in the brain reward system that leads to marked changes in reinforcement mechanisms and motivational state. These long-lasting neuroadaptations are thought to contribute to the development of cravings and relapse. The nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a central component of the brain reward system, plays a critical role in alcohol-induced neuroadaptive changes underlying alcohol-seeking behaviors. Here we review the findings that chronic alcohol exposure produces long-lasting neuroadaptive changes in various ion channels that govern intrinsic membrane properties and neuronal excitability, as well as excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission in the NAcc that underlie alcohol-seeking behavior during protracted withdrawal.
Alcoholism; Nucleus accumbens; Medium spiny neuron; Glutamate; GABA