Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy are at high risk of giving birth to children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Previous reports from our laboratory have shown that third trimester equivalent binge alcohol exposure at a dose of 1.75 g/kg/day results in significant fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell loss in fetal sheep and that both maternal and fetal adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and cortisol levels are elevated in response to alcohol treatment. In this study, we hypothesized that repeated elevations in cortisol from chronic binge alcohol are responsible at least in part for fetal neuronal deficits. Animals were divided into four treatment groups: normal control, pair-fed saline control, alcohol and cortisol. The magnitude of elevation in cortisol in response to alcohol was mimicked in the cortisol group by infusing pregnant ewes with hydrocortisone for 6 hours on each day of the experiment, and administering saline during the first hour in lieu of alcohol. The experiment was conducted on three consecutive days followed by four days without treatment beginning on gestational day (GD) 109 until GD 132. Peak maternal blood alcohol concentration in the alcohol group was 239 ± 7 mg/dl. The fetal brains were collected and processed for stereological cell counting on GD 133. The estimated total number of fetal cerebellar Purkinje cells, the reference volume and the Purkinje cell density were not altered in response to glucocorticoid infusion in the absence of alcohol. These results suggest that glucocorticoids independently during the third trimester equivalent may not produce fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell loss. However, the elevations in cortisol along with other changes induced by alcohol could together lead to brain injury seen in the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; ethanol; sheep; cortisol; cerebellum; Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Although alcohol use disorders (AUDs) have been associated with impulsive personality traits and reduced working memory capacity (WMC), less is known about the nature of their interrelationships. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that low WMC is associated with both impulsive personality and alcohol problems, and that impulsive personality mediates the association between low WMC and alcohol problems. Measures of impulsive personality, WMC, and alcohol problems were assessed in a sample of young adults (N=474), that varied widely in severity of alcohol problems, 57% of whom had alcohol dependence. Simple correlations revealed that WMC, impulsive personality traits, and alcohol problems were all significantly related. Structural equation models (SEMs) showed that impulsivity partially mediated the association between WMC and alcohol problems. Although directionality cannot be determined from these cross-sectional data, the results suggest that reduced WMC may promote impulsivity, which in turn, predisposes to alcohol problems.
Alcohol Problems; Working Memory Capacity; Impulsive Personality
The alcohol-preferring (P) and –nonpreferring (NP) rat lines were developed using bidirectional selective breeding for alcohol consumption (g/kg/day) and alcohol preference (water : ethanol ratio). During a preliminary study, we detected a difference in body weight between inbred P (iP) and inbred NP (iNP) rats that appeared to be associated with the transfer of the Chromosome 4 quantitative trait locus (QTL) seen in the P.NP and NP.P congenic strains. After the initial confirmation that iP rats displayed lower body weight when compared to iNP rats (data not shown), body weight and growth rates of each chromosome 4 reciprocal congenic rat strain (P.NP and NP.P) were measured, and their body weight was consistent with their respective donor strain phenotype, confirming that a quantitative trait locus for body weight mapped to the chromosome 4 interval. Utilizing the newly developed interval-specific congenic strains (ISCS-A and ISCS-B), the QTL interval was further narrowed identifying the following candidate genes of interest: neuropeptide Y (Npy), juxtaposed with another zinc finger gene 1 (Jazf1), corticotrophin releasing factor receptor 2 (Crfr2) and LanC lantibiotic synthetase component C-like 2 (Lancl2). These findings indicate that a biologically active variant(s) regulates body weight on rat chromosome 4 in iP and iNP rats. This QTL for body weight was successfully captured in the P.NP and NP.P congenic strains, and interval-specific congenic strains (ISCSs) were subsequently employed to fine-map the QTL interval identifying the following candidate genes of interest: Npy, Jazf1, Crfr2 and Lancl2. Both Npy and Crfr2 have been previously identified as candidate genes of interest underlying the chromosome 4 QTL for alcohol consumption in iP and iNP rats.
alcoholism; body weight; selective breeding; congenic; interval-specific congenic strain
The opioid system is known to enhance motivated behaviors, including ethanol drinking and food ingestion, by acting in various reward-related brain regions, such as the nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area and medial hypothalamus. There is indirect evidence, however, suggesting that opioid peptides may act differently in the perifornical lateral hypothalamus (PF/LH), causing a suppression of consummatory behavior. Using brain-cannulated Sprague-Dawley rats trained to voluntarily drink 7% ethanol, the present study tested the hypothesis that opioids in the PF/LH can reduce the consumption of ethanol, with animals receiving PF/LH injections of the δ-opioid receptor agonist D-Ala2-met-enkephalinamide (DALA), the µ-receptor agonist [D-Ala2, N-MePhe4, Gly-ol]-enkephalin (DAMGO), the κ-receptor agonist (±)-trans-U-50,488 methanesulfonate (U-50,488H), or the general opioid antagonist methylated naloxone (m-naloxone). The consumption of ethanol, lab chow, and water was monitored for 4 hours after injection. The results showed that the three opioid receptor agonists injected into the PF/LH specifically and significantly reduced ethanol intake, while causing little change in chow or water intake, and the opposite effect, enhanced ethanol intake, was observed with the opioid antagonist. Of the three opioid agonists, the δ-agonist appears to produce the most consistent and long-lasting suppression of consumption. This effect was not observed with injections 2 mm dorsal to this area, focusing attention on the PF/LH as the main site of action. These results suggest that the opioid peptides have a specific role in the PF/LH of reducing ethanol drinking, which is distinct from their more commonly observed appetitive actions in other brain areas. The additional finding, that m-naloxone in the PF/LH stimulates ethanol intake in contrast to its generally suppressive effect in other regions, focuses attention on this hypothalamic area and its distinctive role in contributing to the variable effects sometimes observed with opioid antagonist therapy for alcoholism.
perifornical lateral hypothalamus; opioids; ethanol; δ-receptor; µ-receptor; κ-receptor
Collaborating on studies of subchronic daily intoxication in juvenile and adult rats, we examined whether the repetitive ethanol treatments at these two life stages altered levels of key neuroinflammation-associated proteins—aquaporin-4 (AQP4), certain phospholipase A2 (PLA2) enzymes, PARP-1 and caspase-3—in hippocampus (HC) and entorhinal cortex (EC). Significant changes in the proteins could implicate activation of specific neuroinflammatory signaling pathways in these rats as well as in severely binge-intoxicated adult animals that are reported to incur degeneration of vulnerable neurons in HC and EC. Male Wistar rats, ethanol-intoxicated (3 g/kg i.p.) once daily for 6 days over an 8-day interval beginning at 37 days old and repeated at age 68–75 days, were sacrificed one hr after the day 75 dose (blood ethanol, 200–230 mg/dl). Analysis of HC with an immunoblot technique showed that AQP4, Ca+2-dependent PLA2 (cPLA2 IVA), phosphorylated (activated) p-cPLA2, cleaved (89 kD) PARP (c-PARP), and caspase-3 levels were significantly elevated over controls, whereas Ca+2-independent PLA2 (iPLA2 VIA) was reduced ~70%; however, cleaved caspase-3 was undetectable. In the EC, AQP4 was unchanged, but cPLA2 and p-cPLA2 were significantly increased while iPLA2 levels were diminished (~40%) similar to HC, although just outside statistical significance (p=0.06). In addition, EC levels of PARP-1 and c-PARP were significantly increased. The ethanol-induced activation of cPLA2 in association with reduced iPLA2 mirrors PLA2 changes in reports of neurotrauma and also of dietary omega-3 fatty acid depletion. Furthermore, the robust PARP-1 elevations accompanied by negligible caspase-3 activation indicate that repetitive ethanol intoxication may be potentiating non-apoptotic neurodegenerative processes such as parthanatos. Overall, the repetitive ethanol treatments appeared to instigate previously unappreciated neuroinflammatory pathways in vivo. The data provide insights into mechanisms of binge ethanol abuse that might suggest new therapeutic approaches to counter neurodegeneration and dementia.
alcohol; neuroinflammation; PLA2; AQP4; neurodegeneration; arachidonic acid; PARP-1; parthanatos
Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a major cause of acute and chronic liver disease worldwide. The progressive nature of ALD is well described however the complex interactions under which these pathologies evolve remain to be fully elucidated. Clinically there are no clear biomarkers or universally accepted, effective treatment strategies for ALD. Experimental models of ALD are an important component in identifying underlying mechanisms of alcohol-induced injury to develop better diagnostic markers, predictors of disease progression, and therapeutic targets to manage, halt, or reverse disease progression. Rodents remain the most accessible model for studying ALD pathology. Effective rodent models must mimic the natural history of ALD while allowing examination of complex interactions between multiple hepatic, and non-hepatic, cell types in the setting of altered metabolic or oxidative/nitrosative stress, inflammatory responses, and sensitivity to cytotoxic stress. Additionally, mode and duration of alcohol delivery influences hepatic response and presents unique challenges in understanding disease pathology. This review provides an overview of rodent models of ALD, their strengths and weaknesses relative to human disease states, and provides insight of the potential to develop novel rodent models to simulate the course of human ALD.
In the present study, we sought to determine whether the interoceptive effects of alcohol (1 g/kg, IG) could be assessed using a Pavlovian discrimination method, in which the alcohol drug state sets the occasion for which an environmental stimulus (e.g., light) will be followed by a sucrose reward. This procedure takes advantage of a naturally occurring behavior (i.e., food-seeking) which can be trained rapidly prior to the initiation of discrimination training. Given that the interoceptive effects of alcohol are routinely assessed using operant drug discrimination methods, another group of rats was trained using standard two-lever operant drug discrimination procedures in an effort to compare the Pavlovian procedure to a known behavioral benchmark. The results from this work show that, in addition to operant discrimination procedures, a Pavlovian discrimination task can be used to evaluate the interoceptive effects of alcohol. In addition to the brief behavioral sucrose access training (3 days) required prior to the initiation of the Pavlovian discrimination, the alcohol discrimination was acquired relatively rapidly (i.e., 8 training sessions), shortening the overall duration of the experiment. These features of the Pavlovian procedure make it a valuable method by which to assess the interoceptive effects of alcohol if a short experimental time frame is required, such as assessing the interoceptive effects of alcohol during a brief developmental window (e.g., adolescence) or determining the effects of a pretreatment (i.e., chronic stress, chronic drug pretreatment) on the acquisition of the alcohol discrimination. As such, this initial characterization confirms the feasibility of using this Pavlovian discrimination training method as an additional tool by which to assess the interoceptive effects of alcohol, as there may be experimental situations that necessitate short term discrimination training.
drug discrimination; Pavlovian; operant; alcoholism; discriminative stimulus; ethanol; drinking; subjective; alcohol
We recently reported that chronic exposure to ethanol lowers blood pressure (BP) via altering cardiac contractility and autonomic control in female rats. In this investigation we conducted pharmacological and molecular studies to elucidate the role of constitutive and inducible nitric oxide synthase (NOS) in these hemodynamic effects of ethanol. Changes caused by selective inhibition of eNOS [N5-(1-iminoethyl)-L-ornithine; L-NIO], nNOS (Nω-propyl-L-arginine; NPLA), or iNOS (1400W) in BP, heart rate (HR), myocardial contractility index (dP/dtmax), and power spectral indices of hemodynamic variability were evaluated in telemetered female rats receiving ethanol (5%, w/v) or control liquid diet for 8 weeks. Ethanol increased plasma nitrite/nitrate (NOx) and enhanced the phosphorylation of eNOS and nNOS, but not iNOS, in the tail artery. Ethanol also reduced BP, +dP/dtmax, low-frequency bands of interbeat intervals (IBILF, 0.25–0.75 Hz) and IBILF/HF ratio while high-frequency bands (IBIHF, 0.75–3 Hz) were increased, suggesting parasympathetic overactivity. L-NIO (20 mg/kg i.p.) caused greater increases in BP in control than in ethanol-fed rats but elicited similar reductions in IBILF/HF and +dP/dtmax both groups. NPLA (1 mg/kg i.p.) caused minimal effects in control rats but exacerbated the reductions in BP, +dP/dtmax, and IBILF/HF in ethanol-fed rats. No hemodynamic modifications were caused by 1400W (5 mg/kg i.p.) in either rat group. Together, these findings suggest that nNOS acts tonically to offset the detrimental cardiovascular actions of ethanol in female rats, and the enhanced vascular NO bioavailability may explain the blunted L-NIO evoked pressor response in ethanol-fed rats.
Ethanol; blood pressure; cardiac autonomic control; nitric oxide synthases; female rats
The present series of experiments examined affective properties of a moderate dose of ethanol using the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm in ethanol-naïve, adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. The apparatus and the procedure used were both unbiased. In Experiment 1, rats were given four 30 min conditioning sessions with 1.5 g/kg ethanol (i.p.) or an equivalent volume of saline on the paired side. Animals were found to demonstrate CPP to the ethanol-paired side, an unexpected finding at this relatively high dose in rats. To replicate this finding, and to examine the possibility of non-associative conditioning, an unpaired control group was included in Experiment 2. Once again, rats showed a CPP to the side paired with ethanol relative to either control group. Given that testing in an unfamiliar environment typically results in elevated levels of anxiety and that animals in Experiments 1 and 2 were not exposed to the apparatus prior to conditioning, Experiment 3 was conducted to examine the potential role of context unfamiliarity for induction of ethanol CPP in this test situation by varying whether animals were exposed to the apparatus prior to conditioning. In this study, pre-exposure to the CPP apparatus was found to eliminate the CPP to ethanol observed in rats who were not familiarized with the apparatus. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that ethanol-naïve rats can find ethanol reinforcing as indexed by the CPP test, and provide some evidence for the conditions under which this uncommon finding is observed.
Ethanol place conditioning; Unbiased; Rat; Novelty; Anxiety; Unpaired control
Prenatal ethanol exposure disrupts cortical neurite initiation and outgrowth, but prior studies have reported both ethanol-dependent growth promotion and inhibition. To resolve this ambiguity and better approximate in vivo conditions, we quantitatively analyzed neuronal morphology using a new, whole hemisphere explant model. In this model, Layer 6 (L6) cortical neurons migrate, laminate and extend neurites in an organotypic fashion. To selectively label L6 neurons we performed ex utero electroporation of a GFP expression construct at embryonic day 13 and allowed the explants to develop for 2 days in vitro. Explants were exposed to (400mg/dL) ethanol for either 4 or 24 hrs prior to fixation. Complete 3-D reconstructions were made of >80 GFP-positive neurons in each experimental condition. Acute responses to ethanol exposure included compaction of the Golgi apparatus accompanied by elaboration of supernumerary primary apical neurites, as well as a modest (~15%) increase in higher order apical neurite length. With longer exposure time, ethanol exposure leads to a consistent, significant disorientation of the cell (cell body, primary apical neurite, and Golgi) with respect to the pial surface. The effects on cellular orientation were accompanied by decreased expression of cytoskeletal elements, microtubule associated protein 2 and F-actin. These findings indicate that upon exposure to ethanol, developing L6 neurons manifest disruptions in Golgi apparatus and cytoskeletal elements which may in turn trigger selective and significant perturbations to primary neurite formation and neuronal polarity.
preplate splitting; Golgi apparatus; Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Previous studies have demonstrated that alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are regulated by multiple mechanisms such as neurotransmitters and enzymes. The neurotransmitter, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) may contribute to alcohol effects and serotonin receptors, including 5-HT3, play an important role in AUDs. Recent studies have also implicated histone deacetylases (HDACs) and acetyltransferases (HATS) in regulation of drug addiction, and HDAC inhibitors (HDACi) have been reported as transcriptional modulators of monoaminergic neurotransmission. Therefore, we hypothesize that HDACs may play a role in ethanol induced serotonergic modulation. The effects of ethanol on serotonin and 5-HT3, and the role HDACs, HDAC activity and the HDACi, trichostatin A (TSA), play in alcohol- induced serotonergic effects were studied. Human SK-N-MC and neurons, were treated with ethanol (0.05, 0.1 and 0.2%), and/or TSA (50 nM), and 5-HT3 levels were assessed at 24-72 hrs. Gene expression was evaluated by qRT-PCR and protein by western blot and flow cytometry. Serotonin release was assessed by ELISA and HDAC activity by fluorometric assay. Our results show an increase in 5-HT3 gene after ethanol treatment. Further, ethanol significantly increased HDACs 1 and 3 genes accompanied by an increased in HDAC activity while TSA significantly inhibited HDACs. Studies with TSA show a significant up-regulation of ethanol effects on 5-HT3, while surprisingly TSA inhibited ethanol-induced serotonin production. These results suggest that ethanol affects 5-HT3 and serotonin through mechanisms involving HDACs and HATs. In summary, our studies demonstrate some of the novel properties of HDAC inhibitors and contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms involve in alcohol-serotonergic modulation in the CNS.
Alcohol; histone deacetylases; serotonin; 5-HT; SK-N-MC; neurons
This study examined the association between alcohol use problem severity, defined by number of DSM-IV alcohol Abuse and Dependence symptoms and frequency of alcohol use, and problem behavior engagement among Mexican students. A confidential survey was administered to 1229 students in grades 7–12 at two schools in a northern border city in Mexico. Youths were categorized into five groups based on their alcohol use frequency and symptoms of DSM-IV alcohol Abuse and Dependence, specifically: no lifetime alcohol use, lifetime alcohol use but none in the past year, past year alcohol use, one or two alcohol Abuse or Dependence symptoms, and three or more alcohol Abuse or Dependence symptoms. The association between five levels of alcohol use problem severity and three problem behaviors, lifetime marijuana use, lifetime sexual intercourse, and past year arrest/law trouble, was examined using chi-square or Fisher’s exact tests. Several alcohol use problem severity categories were significantly different with respect to rates of lifetime marijuana use, lifetime sexual intercourse, and past year arrest/law trouble. Higher alcohol use problem severity was associated with greater endorsement of problem behaviors. Knowing about variations in adolescent alcohol use and alcohol problems may be instrumental in determining if youths are also engaging in a range of other risk behaviors. Considering varying levels of alcohol use and alcohol problems is important for effective targeted prevention and treatment interventions.
adolescent; schools; alcohol-related disorders; classification; Mexico; problem behavior
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