Increasing Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in medial prefrontal cortex selectively reduces excessive drinking in ethanol dependent mice.
ABSTRACT: The neurotrophin Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) has been implicated in a number of neuropsychiatric disorders, including alcohol use disorder. Studies have shown that BDNF activity in cortical regions, such as the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) mediates various ethanol-related behaviors. We previously reported a significant down-regulation in Bdnf mRNA in mPFC following chronic ethanol exposure compared to control mice. The present study was conducted to extend these findings by examining whether chronic ethanol treatment reduces BDNF protein expression in mPFC and whether reversing this deficit via direct injection of BDNF or viral-mediated overexpression of BDNF in mPFC alters voluntary ethanol consumption in dependent and nondependent mice. Repeated cycles of chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) exposure was employed to model ethanol dependence, which produces robust escalation of ethanol intake. Results indicated that CIE treatment significantly increased ethanol intake and this was accompanied by a significant decrease in BDNF protein in mPFC that lasted at least 72?h after CIE exposure. In a separate study, once dependence-related increased drinking was established, bilateral infusion of BDNF (0, 0.25, 0.50??g) into mPFC significantly decreased ethanol intake in a dose-related manner in dependent mice but did not affect moderate drinking in nondependent mice. In a third study, viral-mediated overexpression of BDNF in mPFC prevented escalation of drinking in dependent mice but did not alter intake in nondependent mice. Collectively, these results provide evidence that adaptations in cortical (mPFC) BDNF activity resulting from chronic ethanol exposure play a role in mediating excessive ethanol drinking associated with dependence.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The neurofibromatosis type 1 (Nf1) gene encodes a GTPase activating protein that negatively regulates small GTPases of the Ras family. METHODS:We assessed alcohol-related behaviors including alcohol sensitivity, dependent and nondependent drinking, and basal and alcohol-induced gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) release in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) in Nf1 heterozygous null mice (Nf1(+/-)). We also investigated the associations of NF1 polymorphisms with alcohol dependence risk and severity in humans. RESULTS:Nf1(+/-) mice do not differ from wild-type mice in nondependent drinking, such as 24-hour, 2-bottle choice drinking in the dark binge drinking or limited access 2-bottle choice. However, Nf1(+/-) mice failed to escalate alcohol drinking following chronic intermittent ethanol vapor exposure (CIE) to induce dependence. Alcohol acutely increases GABA release in the CeA and alcohol dependence is characterized by increased baseline GABA release in CeA. Interestingly, GABA release in Nf1(+/-) mice is greater at baseline than wild-type mice, is not elevated by induction of dependence by CIE, and failed to show alcohol-induced facilitation both before and after CIE. Additionally, we observed that multiple variants in the human NF1 gene are associated with a quantitative measure of alcohol dependence in both African Americans and European Americans. CONCLUSIONS:In this translational investigation, we found that Nf1 activity regulates excessive drinking and basal and ethanol-stimulated GABA release in the mouse central amygdala. We also found that genetic variation in NF1 may confer an inherent susceptibility to the transition from nondependent to dependent drinking in humans.
Project description:Alcohol dependence promotes neuroadaptations in numerous brain areas, leading to escalated drinking and enhanced relapse vulnerability. We previously developed a mouse model of ethanol dependence and relapse drinking in which repeated cycles of chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) vapor exposure drive a significant escalation of voluntary ethanol drinking. In the current study, we used this model to evaluate changes in neuronal activity (as indexed by c-Fos expression) throughout acute and protracted withdrawal from CIE (combined with or without a history of ethanol drinking). We analyzed c-Fos protein expression in 29 brain regions in mice sacrificed 2, 10, 26, and 74 hours or 7 days after withdrawal from 5 cycles of CIE. Results revealed dynamic time- and brain region-dependent changes in c-Fos activity over the time course of withdrawal from CIE exposure, as compared with nondependent air-exposed control mice, beginning with markedly low expression levels upon removal from the ethanol vapor chambers (2 hours), reflecting intoxication. c-Fos expression was enhanced during acute CIE withdrawal (10 and 26 hours), followed by widespread reductions at the beginning of protracted withdrawal (74 hours) in several brain areas. Persistent reductions in c-Fos expression were observed during prolonged withdrawal (7 days) in prelimbic cortex, nucleus accumbens shell, dorsomedial striatum, paraventricular nucleus of thalamus, and ventral subiculum. A history of ethanol drinking altered acute CIE withdrawal effects and caused widespread reductions in c-Fos that persisted during extended abstinence even without CIE exposure. These data indicate that ethanol dependence and relapse drinking drive long-lasting neuroadaptations in several brain regions.
Project description:Alcohol dependence is linked to dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Here, we investigated effects of repeated ethanol intoxication-withdrawal cycles (using chronic intermittent ethanol vapor inhalation; CIE) and abstinence from CIE on peak and nadir plasma corticosterone (CORT) levels. Irritability- and anxiety-like behaviors as well as glucocorticoid receptors (GR) in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) were assessed at various intervals (2h-28d) after cessation of CIE. Results show that peak CORT increased during CIE, transiently decreased during early abstinence (1-11d), and returned to pre-abstinence levels during protracted abstinence (17-27d). Acute withdrawal from CIE enhanced aggression- and anxiety-like behaviors. Early abstinence from CIE reduced anxiety-like behavior. mPFC-GR signaling (indexed by relative phosphorylation of GR at Ser211) was transiently decreased when measured at time points during early and protracted abstinence. Further, voluntary ethanol drinking in CIE (CIE-ED) and CIE-naïve (ED) rats, and effects of CIE-ED and ED on peak CORT levels and mPFC-GR were investigated during acute withdrawal (8h) and protracted abstinence (28d). CIE-ED and ED increased peak CORT during drinking. CIE-ED and ED decreased expression and signaling of mPFC-GR during acute withdrawal, an effect that was reversed by systemic mifepristone treatment. CIE-ED and ED demonstrate robust reinstatement of ethanol seeking during protracted abstinence and show increases in mPFC-GR expression. Collectively, the data demonstrate that acute withdrawal from CIE produces robust alterations in GR signaling, CORT and negative affect symptoms which could facilitate excessive drinking. The findings also show that CIE-ED and ED demonstrate enhanced relapse vulnerability triggered by ethanol cues and these changes are partially mediated by altered GR expression in the mPFC. Taken together, transition to alcohol dependence could be accompanied by alterations in mPFC stress-related pathways that may increase negative emotional symptoms and increase vulnerability to relapse.
Project description:Studies in animal models have shown that repeated episodes of alcohol dependence and withdrawal promote escalation of drinking that is presumably associated with alterations in the addiction neurocircuitry. Using a lithium chloride-ethanol pairing procedure to devalue the reinforcing properties of ethanol, the present study determined whether multiple cycles of chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) exposure by vapor inhalation also alters the sensitivity of drinking behavior to the devaluation of ethanol's reinforcing effects. The effect of devaluation on operant ethanol self-administration and extinction was examined in mice prior to initiation of CIE (short drinking history) and after repeated cycles of CIE or air control exposure (long drinking history). Devaluation significantly attenuated the recovery of baseline ethanol self-administration when tested either prior to CIE or in the air-exposed controls that had experienced repeated bouts of drinking but no CIE. In contrast, in mice that had undergone repeated cycles of CIE exposure that promoted escalation of ethanol drinking, self-administration was completely resistant to the effect of devaluation. Devaluation had no effect on the time course of extinction training in either pre-CIE or post-CIE mice. Taken together, these results are consistent with the suggestion that repeated cycles of ethanol dependence and withdrawal produce escalation of ethanol self-administration that is associated with a change in sensitivity to devaluation of the reinforcing properties of ethanol.
Project description:We have investigated the expression of chromatin-regulating genes in the prefrontal cortex and in the shell subdivision of the nucleus accumbens during protracted withdrawal in mice with increased ethanol drinking after chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) vapor exposure and in mice with a history of non-dependent drinking. We observed that the methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) was one of the few chromatin-regulating genes to be differentially regulated by a history of dependence. As MeCP2 has the potential of acting as a broad gene regulator, we investigated sensitivity to ethanol and ethanol drinking in MeCP2(308/) (Y) mice, which harbor a truncated MeCP2 allele but have a milder phenotype than MeCP2 null mice. We observed that MeCP2(308/) (Y) mice were more sensitive to ethanol's stimulatory and sedative effects than wild-type (WT) mice, drank less ethanol in a limited access 2 bottle choice paradigm and did not show increased drinking after induction of dependence with exposure to CIE vapors. Alcohol metabolism did not differ in MeCP2(308/) (Y) and WT mice. Additionally, MeCP2(308/) (Y) mice did not differ from WT mice in ethanol preference in a 24-hour paradigm nor in their intake of graded solutions of saccharin or quinine, suggesting that the MeCP2(308/) (Y) mutation did not alter taste function. Lastly, using the Gene Set Enrichment Analysis algorithm, we found a significant overlap in the genes regulated by alcohol and by MeCP2. Together, these results suggest that MeCP2 contributes to the regulation of ethanol sensitivity and drinking.
Project description:Drinking to alleviate the symptoms of acute withdrawal is included in diagnostic criteria for alcoholism, but the contribution of acute withdrawal relief to high alcohol intake has been difficult to model in animals.Ethanol dependence was induced by passive intragastric ethanol infusions in C57BL/6J (B6) and DBA/2J (D2) mice; nondependent control animals received water infusions. Mice were then allowed to self-administer ethanol or water intragastrically.The time course of acute withdrawal was similar to that produced by chronic ethanol vapor exposure in mice, reaching a peak at 7 to 9 hours and returning to baseline within 24 hours; withdrawal severity was greater in D2 than in B6 mice (experiment 1). Postwithdrawal delays in initial ethanol access (1, 3, or 5 days) reduced the enhancement in later ethanol intake normally seen in D2 (but not B6) mice allowed to self-infuse ethanol during acute withdrawal (experiment 2). The postwithdrawal enhancement of ethanol intake persisted over a 5-day abstinence period in D2 mice (experiment 3). D2 mice allowed to drink ethanol during acute withdrawal drank more ethanol and self-infused more ethanol than nondependent mice (experiment 4).Alcohol access during acute withdrawal increased later alcohol intake in a time-dependent manner, an effect that may be related to a genetic difference in sensitivity to acute withdrawal. This promising model of negative reinforcement encourages additional research on the mechanisms underlying acute withdrawal relief and its role in determining risk for alcoholism.
Project description:Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often use alcohol to cope with their distress. This aberrant use of alcohol often develops into alcohol use disorder (AUD) leading to high rates of PTSD-AUD co-occurrence. Individuals with comorbid PTSD-AUD have more intense alcohol cravings and increased relapse rates during withdrawal than those with AUD alone. Also, individuals with PTSD or AUD alone often show similar psychological behaviors, such as impulsivity and anhedonia. Extensive clinical studies on the behavioral effects of PTSD-AUD comorbidity, namely alcohol use, have been performed. However, these effects have not been well studied or mechanistically explored in animal models. Therefore, the present study evaluated the effects of traumatic stress comorbid with alcohol exposures on ethanol intake, impulsivity, and anhedonia in mice. Adult male C57Bl/6 mice were first exposed to either mouse single-prolonged stress (mSPS), an animal model that has been validated for characteristics akin to PTSD symptoms, or control conditions. Baseline two-bottle choice ethanol consumption and preference tests were conducted after a 7-day isolation period, as part of the mSPS exposure. Next, mice were exposed to air or chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE), a vapor-induced ethanol dependence and withdrawal model, for 4 weeks. Two-bottle choice ethanol drinking was used to measure dependence-induced ethanol consumption and preference during periods intervening CIE cycles. The novelty suppressed feeding (NSF) test was used to evaluate impulsivity and anhedonia behaviors 48 h after mSPS and/or repeated CIE exposure. Results showed that, compared to control conditions, mSPS did not affect baseline ethanol consumption and preference. However, mSPS-CIE mice increased Post-CIE ethanol consumption compared to Control-Air mice. Mice exposed to mSPS had a shorter latency to feed during the NSF, whereas CIE-exposed mice consumed less palatable food reward in their home cage after the NSF. These results demonstrate that mice exposed to both mSPS and CIE are more vulnerable to ethanol withdrawal effects, and those exposed to mSPS have increased impulsivity, while CIE exposure increases anhedonia. Future studies to examine the relationship between behavioral outcomes and the molecular mechanisms in the brain after PTSD-AUD are warranted.
Project description:Alcohol (ethanol) dependence is a chronic relapsing brain disorder partially influenced by genetics and characterized by an inability to regulate harmful levels of drinking. Emerging evidence has linked genes that encode KV7, KIR, and KCa2 K+ channels with variation in alcohol-related behaviors in rodents and humans. This led us to experimentally test relations between K+ channel genes and escalation of drinking in a chronic-intermittent ethanol (CIE) exposure model of dependence in BXD recombinant inbred strains of mice. Transcript levels for K+ channel genes in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) covary with voluntary ethanol drinking in a non-dependent cohort. Transcripts that encode KV7 channels covary negatively with drinking in non-dependent BXD strains. Using a pharmacological approach to validate the genetic findings, C57BL/6J mice were allowed intermittent access to ethanol to establish baseline consumption before they were treated with retigabine, an FDA-approved KV7 channel positive modulator. Systemic administration significantly reduced drinking, and consistent with previous evidence, retigabine was more effective at reducing voluntary consumption in high-drinking than low-drinking subjects. We evaluated the specific K+ channel genes that were most sensitive to CIE exposure and identified a gene subset in the NAc and PFC that were dysregulated in the alcohol-dependent BXD cohort. CIE-induced modulation of nine genes in the NAc and six genes in the PFC covaried well with the changes in drinking induced by ethanol dependence. Here we identified novel candidate genes in the NAc and PFC that are regulated by ethanol dependence and correlate with voluntary drinking in non-dependent and dependent BXD mice. The findings that Kcnq expression correlates with drinking and that retigabine reduces consumption suggest that KV7 channels could be pharmacogenetic targets to treat individuals with alcohol addiction.
Project description:The therapeutic effects of wheel running (WR) during abstinence on reinstatement of ethanol seeking behaviors in rats that self-administered ethanol only (ethanol drinking, ED) or ED with concurrent chronic intermittent ethanol vapor experience (CIE-ED) were investigated. Neuronal activation as well as oligodendroglial and neuroinflammatory factors were measured in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) tissue to determine cellular correlates associated with enhanced ethanol seeking. CIE-ED rats demonstrated escalated and unregulated intake of ethanol and maintained higher drinking than ED rats during abstinence. CIE-ED rats were more resistant to extinction from ethanol self-administration, however, demonstrated similar ethanol seeking triggered by ethanol contextual cues compared to ED rats. Enhanced seeking was associated with reduced neuronal activation, and increased number of myelinating oligodendrocyte progenitors and PECAM-1 expression in the mPFC, indicating enhanced oligodendroglial and neuroinflammatory response during abstinence. WR during abstinence enhanced self-administration in ED rats, indicating a deprivation effect. WR reduced reinstatement of ethanol seeking in CIE-ED and ED rats, indicating protection against relapse. The reduced ethanol seeking was associated with enhanced neuronal activation, reduced number of myelinating oligodendrocyte progenitors, and reduced PECAM-1 expression. The current findings demonstrate a protective role of WR during abstinence in reducing ethanol seeking triggered by ethanol contextual cues and establish a role for oligodendroglia-neuroinflammatory response in ethanol seeking. Taken together, enhanced oligodendroglia-neuroinflammatory response during abstinence may contribute to brain trauma in chronic alcohol drinking subjects and be a risk factor for enhanced propensity for alcohol relapse.
Project description:Large conductance calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels play a key role in the control of neuronal activity. Ethanol is a potent activator of BK channel gating, but how this action may impact ethanol drinking still remains poorly understood. Auxiliary ? subunits are known to modulate ethanol-induced potentiation of BK currents. In the present study, we investigated whether BK ?1 and ?4 subunits influence voluntary ethanol consumption using knockout (KO) mice. In a first experiment, mice were first subjected to continuous two-bottle choice (2BC) and were then switched to intermittent 2BC, which progressively increased ethanol intake as previously described in wildtype mice. BK ?1 or ?4 subunit deficiency did not affect ethanol self-administration under either schedule of access. In a second experiment, mice were first trained to drink ethanol in a limited-access 2BC paradigm. BK ?1 or ?4 deletion did not affect baseline consumption. Weeks of 2BC were then alternated with weeks of chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) or air inhalation. As expected, a gradual escalation of ethanol drinking was observed in dependent wildtype mice, while intake remained stable in non-dependent wildtype mice. However, CIE exposure only produced a mild augmentation of ethanol consumption in BK ?4 KO mice. Conversely, ethanol drinking increased after fewer CIE cycles in BK ?1 KO mice than in wildtype mice. In conclusion, BK ?1 or ?4 did not influence voluntary ethanol drinking in non-dependent mice, regardless of the pattern of access to ethanol. However, deletion of BK ?4 attenuated, while deletion of BK ?1 accelerated, the escalation of ethanol drinking during withdrawal from CIE. Our data suggest that BK ?1 and ?4 subunits have an opposite influence on the negative reinforcing properties of ethanol withdrawal. Modulating the expression, distribution or interactions of BK channel auxiliary subunits may therefore represent a novel avenue for the treatment of alcoholism.