Publications by authors named "Abigail E Agoglia"

14 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Sex-specific plasticity in CRF regulation of inhibitory control in central amygdala CRF1 neurons after chronic voluntary alcohol drinking.

Addict Biol 2021 Jun 2:e13067. Epub 2021 Jun 2.

Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 27599, USA.

Despite strong preclinical evidence for the ability of corticotropin releasing factor 1 (CRF1) antagonists to regulate alcohol consumption, clinical trials have not yet demonstrated therapeutic effects of these compounds in alcohol use disorder (AUD) patients. Several confounding factors may limit the translation of preclinical CRF1 research to patients, including reliance on experimenter-administered alcohol instead of voluntary consumption, a preponderance of evidence collected in male subjects only and an inability to assess the effects of alcohol on specific brain circuits. A population of particular interest is the CRF1-containing neurons of the central amygdala (CeA). CRF1 CeA neurons are sensitive to ethanol, but the effects of alcohol drinking on CRF signalling within this population are unknown. In the present study, we assessed the effects of voluntary alcohol drinking on inhibitory control of CRF1+ CeA neurons from male and female CRF1:GFP mice using ex vivo electrophysiology and determined the contributions of CRF1 signalling to inhibitory control and voluntary alcohol drinking. Chronic alcohol drinking produced neuroadaptations in CRF1+ neurons that increased the sensitivity of GABA receptor-mediated sIPSCs to the acute effects of alcohol, CRF and the CRF1 antagonist R121919, but these adaptations were more pronounced in male versus female mice. The CRF1 antagonist CP-154,526 reduced voluntary alcohol drinking in both sexes and abolished sex differences in alcohol drinking. The lack of alcohol-induced adaptation in the female CRF1 system may be related to the elevated alcohol intake exhibited by female mice and could contribute to the ineffectiveness of CRF1 antagonists in female AUD patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/adb.13067DOI Listing
June 2021

Sex differences in corticotropin releasing factor peptide regulation of inhibitory control and excitability in central amygdala corticotropin releasing factor receptor 1-neurons.

Neuropharmacology 2020 12 17;180:108296. Epub 2020 Sep 17.

Department of Pharmacology, United States; Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, United States. Electronic address:

The central amygdala (CeA) is a critical regulator of emotional behavior that has been implicated in psychiatric illnesses, including anxiety disorders and addiction. The CeA corticotropin releasing factor receptor 1 (CRF1) system has been implicated in alcohol use disorder (AUD) and mood disorders, and has been shown to regulate anxiety-like behavior and alcohol consumption in rodents. However, the effects of CRF signaling within the CRF receptor 1-containing (CRF1+) population of the CeA remain unclear, and the effects of ethanol and CRF1 manipulations in female rodents have not been assessed. Here, we characterized inhibitory control and CRF1 signaling in male and female CRF1-GFP reporter mice. Male and female CRF1+ CeA neurons exhibited similar baseline GABAergic signaling and excitability and were comparably sensitive to CRF-induced increases in presynaptic GABA release. CRF1 antagonism reduced GABA release onto CRF1-containing neurons comparably in both males and females. Acute ethanol application reduced GABA release onto CRF1+ neurons from males, but female CRF1+ neurons were insensitive to ethanol. Exogenous CRF increased the firing rate of CRF1-containing neurons to a greater extent in male cells versus female cells, and CRF1 antagonism reduced firing in females but not males. Together, these findings indicate a critical sex-specific role for the CRF system in regulating inhibitory control and excitability of CRF1-containing neurons in the central amygdala. Sex differences in sensitivity of CRF/CRF1 signaling provide useful context for the sex differences in psychiatric illness reported in human patients, particularly AUD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2020.108296DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8207535PMC
December 2020

Biological intersection of sex, age, and environment in the corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) system and alcohol.

Neuropharmacology 2020 06 7;170:108045. Epub 2020 Mar 7.

Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA; Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA. Electronic address:

The neuropeptide corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) is critical in neural circuit function and behavior, particularly in the context of stress, anxiety, and addiction. Despite a wealth of preclinical evidence for the efficacy of CRF receptor 1 antagonists in reducing behavioral pathology associated with alcohol exposure, several clinical trials have had disappointing outcomes, possibly due to an underappreciation of the role of biological variables. Although he National Institutes of Health (NIH) now mandate the inclusion of sex as a biological variable in all clinical and preclinical research, the current state of knowledge in this area is based almost entirely on evidence from male subjects. Additionally, the influence of biological variables other than sex has received even less attention in the context of neuropeptide signaling. Age (particularly adolescent development) and housing conditions have been shown to affect CRF signaling and voluntary alcohol intake, and the interaction between these biological variables is particularly relevant to the role of the CRF system in the vulnerability or resilience to the development of alcohol use disorder (AUD). Going forward, it will be important to include careful consideration of biological variables in experimental design, reporting, and interpretation. As new research uncovers conditions in which sex, age, and environment play major roles in physiological and/or pathological processes, our understanding of the complex interaction between relevant biological variables and critical signaling pathways like the CRF system in the cellular and behavioral consequences of alcohol exposure will continue to expand ultimately improving the ability of preclinical research to translate to the clinic. This article is part of the special issue on Neuropeptides.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2020.108045DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7350391PMC
June 2020

Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Receptor-1 Neurons in the Lateral Amygdala Display Selective Sensitivity to Acute and Chronic Ethanol Exposure.

eNeuro 2020 Mar/Apr;7(2). Epub 2020 Mar 5.

Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599

The lateral amygdala (LA) serves as the point of entry for sensory information within the amygdala complex, a structure that plays a critical role in emotional processes and has been implicated in alcohol use disorders. Within the amygdala, the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) system has been shown to mediate some of the effects of both stress and ethanol, but the effects of ethanol on specific CRF1 receptor circuits in the amygdala have not been fully established. We used male CRF1:GFP reporter mice to characterize CRF1-expressing (CRF1) and nonexpressing (CRF1) LA neurons and investigate the effects of acute and chronic ethanol exposure on these populations. The CRF1 population was found to be composed predominantly of glutamatergic projection neurons with a minority subpopulation of interneurons. CRF1 neurons exhibited a tonic conductance that was insensitive to acute ethanol. CRF1 neurons did not display a basal tonic conductance, but the application of acute ethanol induced a δ GABA receptor subunit-dependent tonic conductance and enhanced phasic GABA release onto these cells. Chronic ethanol increased CRF1 neuronal excitability but did not significantly alter phasic or tonic GABA signaling in either CRF1 or CRF1 cells. Chronic ethanol and withdrawal also did not alter basal extracellular GABA or glutamate transmitter levels in the LA/BLA and did not alter the sensitivity of GABA or glutamate to acute ethanol-induced increases in transmitter release. Together, these results provide the first characterization of the CRF1 population of LA neurons and suggest mechanisms for differential acute ethanol sensitivity within this region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0420-19.2020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7059189PMC
June 2021

Alcohol drinking exacerbates neural and behavioral pathology in the 3xTg-AD mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

Int Rev Neurobiol 2019 23;148:169-230. Epub 2019 Oct 23.

Department of Psychiatry, Center for Alcohol Studies, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States. Electronic address:

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that represents the most common cause of dementia in the United States. Although the link between alcohol use and AD has been studied, preclinical research has potential to elucidate neurobiological mechanisms that underlie this interaction. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that nondependent alcohol drinking exacerbates the onset and magnitude of AD-like neural and behavioral pathology. We first evaluated the impact of voluntary 24-h, two-bottle choice home-cage alcohol drinking on the prefrontal cortex and amygdala neuroproteome in C57BL/6J mice and found a striking association between alcohol drinking and AD-like pathology. Bioinformatics identified the AD-associated proteins MAPT (Tau), amyloid beta precursor protein (APP), and presenilin-1 (PSEN-1) as the main modulators of alcohol-sensitive protein networks that included AD-related proteins that regulate energy metabolism (ATP5D, HK1, AK1, PGAM1, CKB), cytoskeletal development (BASP1, CAP1, DPYSL2 [CRMP2], ALDOA, TUBA1A, CFL2, ACTG1), cellular/oxidative stress (HSPA5, HSPA8, ENO1, ENO2), and DNA regulation (PURA, YWHAZ). To address the impact of alcohol drinking on AD, studies were conducted using 3xTg-AD mice that express human MAPT, APP, and PSEN-1 transgenes and develop AD-like brain and behavioral pathology. 3xTg-AD and wild-type mice consumed alcohol or saccharin for 4 months. Behavioral tests were administered during a 1-month alcohol-free period. Alcohol intake induced AD-like behavioral pathologies in 3xTg-AD mice including impaired spatial memory in the Morris Water Maze, diminished sensorimotor gating as measured by prepulse inhibition, and exacerbated conditioned fear. Multiplex immunoassay conducted on brain lysates showed that alcohol drinking upregulated primary markers of AD pathology in 3xTg-AD mice: Aβ 42/40 ratio in the lateral entorhinal and prefrontal cortex and total Tau expression in the lateral entorhinal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and amygdala at 1-month post alcohol exposure. Immunocytochemistry showed that alcohol use upregulated expression of pTau (Ser199/Ser202) in the hippocampus, which is consistent with late-stage AD. According to the NIA-AA Research Framework, these results suggest that alcohol use is associated with Alzheimer's pathology. Results also showed that alcohol use was associated with a general reduction in Akt/mTOR signaling via several phosphoproteins (IR, IRS1, IGF1R, PTEN, ERK, mTOR, p70S6K, RPS6) in multiple brain regions including hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. Dysregulation of Akt/mTOR phosphoproteins suggests alcohol may target this pathway in AD progression. These results suggest that nondependent alcohol drinking increases the onset and magnitude of AD-like neural and behavioral pathology in 3xTg-AD mice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/bs.irn.2019.10.017DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6939615PMC
May 2020

The center of the emotional universe: Alcohol, stress, and CRF1 amygdala circuitry.

Alcohol 2018 11 30;72:61-73. Epub 2018 Mar 30.

Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, United States. Electronic address:

The commonalities between different phases of stress and alcohol use as well as the high comorbidity between alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and anxiety disorders suggest common underlying cellular mechanisms governing the rewarding and aversive aspects of these related conditions. As an integrative center that assigns emotional salience to a wide variety of internal and external stimuli, the amygdala complex plays a major role in how alcohol and stress influence cellular physiology to produce disordered behavior. Previous work has illustrated the broad role of the amygdala in alcohol, stress, and anxiety. However, the challenge of current and future studies is to identify the specific dysregulations that occur within distinct amygdala circuits and subpopulations and the commonalities between these alterations in each disorder, with the long-term goal of identifying potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Specific intra-amygdala circuits and cell type-specific subpopulations are emerging as critical targets for stress- and alcohol-induced plasticity, chief among them the corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) and CRF receptor 1 (CRF1) system. CRF and CRF1 have been implicated in the effects of alcohol in several amygdala nuclei, including the basolateral (BLA) and central amygdala (CeA); however, the precise circuitry involved in these effects and the role of these circuits in stress and anxiety are only beginning to be understood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.alcohol.2018.03.009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165695PMC
November 2018

Comparison of the adolescent and adult mouse prefrontal cortex proteome.

PLoS One 2017 1;12(6):e0178391. Epub 2017 Jun 1.

Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America.

Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by unique behavioral phenotypes (increased novelty seeking, risk taking, sociability and impulsivity) and increased risk for destructive behaviors, impaired decision making and psychiatric illness. Adaptive and maladaptive adolescent traits have been associated with development of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), a brain region that mediates regulatory control of behavior. However, the molecular changes that underlie brain development and behavioral vulnerability have not been fully characterized. Using high-throughput 2D DIGE spot profiling with identification by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, we identified 62 spots in the PFC that exhibited age-dependent differences in expression. Identified proteins were associated with diverse cellular functions, including intracellular signaling, synaptic plasticity, cellular organization and metabolism. Separate Western blot analyses confirmed age-related changes in DPYSL2, DNM1, STXBP1 and CFL1 in the mPFC and expanded these findings to the dorsal striatum, nucleus accumbens, motor cortex, amygdala and ventral tegmental area. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) identified functional interaction networks enriched with proteins identified in the proteomics screen, linking age-related alterations in protein expression to cellular assembly and development, cell signaling and behavior, and psychiatric illness. These results provide insight into potential molecular components of adolescent cortical development, implicating structural processes that begin during embryonic development as well as plastic adaptations in signaling that may work in concert to bring the cortex, and other brain regions, into maturity.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0178391PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5453624PMC
September 2017

Cannabinoid CB1 receptor inhibition blunts adolescent-typical increased binge alcohol and sucrose consumption in male C57BL/6J mice.

Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2016 Apr 19;143:11-7. Epub 2016 Jan 19.

Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States; Curriculum in Neurobiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States; Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States; Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States.

Increased binge alcohol consumption has been reported among adolescents as compared to adults in both humans and rodent models, and has been associated with serious long-term health consequences. However, the neurochemical mechanism for age differences in binge drinking between adolescents and adults has not been established. The present study was designed to evaluate the mechanistic role of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor in adolescent and adult binge drinking. Binge consumption was established in adolescent and adult male C57BL/6J mice by providing access to 20% alcohol or 1% sucrose for 4h every other day. Pretreatment with the CB1 antagonist/inverse agonist AM-251 (0, 1, 3, and 10mg/kg) in a Latin square design dose-dependently reduced adolescent alcohol consumption to adult levels without altering adult intake. AM-251 (3mg/kg) also reduced adolescent but not adult sucrose consumption. Adolescent reductions in alcohol and sucrose were not associated with alterations in open-field locomotor activity or thigmotaxis. These findings point to age differences in CB1 receptor activity as a functional mediator of adolescent-typical increased binge drinking as compared to adults. Developmental alterations in endocannabinoid signaling in the adolescent brain may therefore be responsible for the drinking phenotype seen in this age group.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2016.01.009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4905821PMC
April 2016

CaMKII inhibition in the prefrontal cortex specifically increases the positive reinforcing effects of sweetened alcohol in C57BL/6J mice.

Behav Brain Res 2016 Feb 19;298(Pt B):286-90. Epub 2015 Nov 19.

Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, United States; Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, United States. Electronic address:

Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is a multifunctional enzyme that is required for synaptic plasticity and has been proposed to be a primary molecular component of the etiology of alcohol addiction. Chronic alcohol intake upregulates CaMKIIα protein expression in reward-related brain regions including the amygdala and nucleus accumbens, and CaMKIIα activity in the amygdala is required for the positive reinforcing effects of alcohol, suggesting this system promotes consumption in the early stages of alcohol addiction. Alternatively, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is known to inhibit limbic activity via CaMKII-dependent excitatory projections and may, therefore, enable top-down regulation of motivation. Here we sought to remove that regulatory control by site-specifically inhibiting CaMKII activity in the mPFC, and measured effects on the positive reinforcing effects of sweetened alcohol in C57BL/6J mice. Infusion of the CAMKII inhibitor KN-93 (0-10.0 μg) in the mPFC primarily increased alcohol+sucrose reinforced response rate in a dose- and time-dependent manner. KN-93 infusion reduced response rate in behavior-matched sucrose-only controls. Importantly, potentiation of operant responding for sweetened alcohol occurred immediately after infusion, at a time during which effects on sucrose responding were not observed, and persisted through the session. These results suggest that endogenous CaMKII activity in the mPFC exerts inhibitory control over the positive reinforcing effects of alcohol. Downregulation of CaMKII signaling in the mPFC might contribute to escalated alcohol use.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2015.11.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688209PMC
February 2016

CaMKIIα-GluA1 Activity Underlies Vulnerability to Adolescent Binge Alcohol Drinking.

Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2015 Sep 6;39(9):1680-90. Epub 2015 Aug 6.

Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Background: Binge drinking during adolescence is associated with increased risk for developing alcohol use disorders; however, the neural mechanisms underlying this liability are unclear. In this study, we sought to determine whether binge drinking alters expression or phosphorylation of 2 molecular mechanisms of neuroplasticity, calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase II alpha (CaMKIIα) and the GluA1 subunit of AMPA receptors (AMPARs) in addiction-associated brain regions. We also asked whether activation of CaMKIIα-dependent AMPAR activity escalates binge-like drinking.

Methods: To address these questions, CaMKIIαT286 and GluA1S831 protein phosphorylation and expression were assessed in the amygdala and striatum of adolescent and adult male C57BL/6J mice immediately after voluntary binge-like alcohol drinking (blood alcohol >80 mg/dl). In separate mice, effects of the CaMKIIα-dependent GluA1S831 phosphorylation (pGluA1S831 )-enhancing drug tianeptine were tested on binge-like alcohol consumption in both age groups.

Results: Binge-like drinking decreased CaMKIIαT286 phosphorylation (pCaMKIIαT286 ) selectively in adolescent amygdala with no effect in adults. Alcohol also produced a trend for reduced pGluA1S831 expression in adolescent amygdala but differentially increased pGluA1S831 in adult amygdala. No effects were observed in the nucleus accumbens or dorsal striatum. Tianeptine increased binge-like alcohol consumption in adolescents but decreased alcohol consumption in adults. Sucrose consumption was similarly decreased by tianeptine pretreatment in both ages.

Conclusions: These data show that the adolescent and adult amygdalae are differentially sensitive to effects of binge-like alcohol drinking on plasticity-linked glutamate signaling molecules. Tianeptine-induced increases in binge-like drinking only in adolescents suggest that differential CaMKIIα-dependent AMPAR activation may underlie age-related escalation of binge drinking.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acer.12819DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4558330PMC
September 2015

Alcohol alters the activation of ERK1/2, a functional regulator of binge alcohol drinking in adult C57BL/6J mice.

Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2015 Mar 19;39(3):463-75. Epub 2015 Feb 19.

Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Curriculum in Neurobiology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Background: Binge alcohol drinking is a particularly risky pattern of alcohol consumption that often precedes alcohol dependence and addiction. The transition from binge alcohol drinking to alcohol addiction likely involves mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and learning in the brain. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascades have been shown to be involved in learning and memory, as well as the response to drugs of abuse, but their role in binge alcohol drinking remains unclear. The present experiments were designed to determine the effects of acute alcohol on extracellular signaling-related kinases (ERK1/2) expression and activity and to determine whether ERK1/2 activity functionally regulates binge-like alcohol drinking.

Methods: Adult male C57BL/6J mice were injected with ethanol (EtOH) (3.0 mg/kg, intraperitoneally) 10, 30, or 90 minutes prior to brain tissue collection. Next, mice that were brought to freely consume unsweetened EtOH in a binge-like access procedure were pretreated with the MEK1/2 inhibitor SL327 or the p38 MAPK inhibitor SB239063.

Results: Acute EtOH increased pERK1/2 immunoreactivity relative to vehicle in brain regions known to be involved in drug reward and addiction, including the central amygdala and prefrontal cortex. However, EtOH decreased pERK1/2 immunoreactivity relative to vehicle in the nucleus accumbens core. SB239063 pretreatment significantly decreased EtOH consumption only at doses that also produced nonspecific locomotor effects. SL327 pretreatment significantly increased EtOH, but not sucrose, consumption without inducing generalized locomotor effects.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that ERK1/2 MAPK signaling regulates binge-like alcohol drinking. As alcohol increased pERK1/2 immunoreactivity relative to vehicle in brain regions known to regulate drug self-administration, SL327 may have blocked this direct pharmacological effect of alcohol and thereby inhibited the termination of binge-like drinking.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acer.12645DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4348173PMC
March 2015

Moderate Alcohol Drinking and the Amygdala Proteome: Identification and Validation of Calcium/Calmodulin Dependent Kinase II and AMPA Receptor Activity as Novel Molecular Mechanisms of the Positive Reinforcing Effects of Alcohol.

Biol Psychiatry 2016 Mar 31;79(6):430-42. Epub 2014 Oct 31.

Departments of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Departments of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Departments of Curriculum in Neurobiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Electronic address:

Background: Despite worldwide consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol, the neural mechanisms that mediate the transition from use to abuse are not fully understood.

Methods: Here, we conducted a high-throughput screen of the amygdala proteome in mice after moderate alcohol drinking (n = 12/group) followed by behavioral studies (n = 6-8/group) to uncover novel molecular mechanisms of the positive reinforcing properties of alcohol that strongly influence the development of addiction.

Results: Two-dimensional difference in-gel electrophoresis with matrix assisted laser desorption ionization tandem time-of-flight identified 29 differentially expressed proteins in the amygdala of nondependent C57BL/6J mice following 24 days of alcohol drinking. Alcohol-sensitive proteins included calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II alpha (CaMKIIα) and a network of functionally linked proteins that regulate neural plasticity and glutamate-mediated synaptic activity. Accordingly, alcohol drinking increased α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isooxazole receptor (AMPAR) in central amygdala (CeA) and phosphorylation of AMPAR GluA1 subunit at a CaMKII locus (GluA1-Ser831) in CeA and lateral amygdala. Further, CaMKIIα-Thr286 and GluA1-Ser831 phosphorylation was increased in CeA and lateral amygdala of mice that lever-pressed for alcohol versus the nondrug reinforcer sucrose. Mechanistic studies showed that targeted pharmacologic inhibition of amygdala CaMKII or AMPAR activity specifically inhibited the positive reinforcing properties of alcohol but not sucrose.

Conclusions: Moderate alcohol drinking increases the activity and function of plasticity-linked protein networks in the amygdala that regulate the positive reinforcing effects of the drug. Given the prominence of positive reinforcement in the etiology of addiction, we propose that alcohol-induced adaptations in CaMKIIα and AMPAR signaling in the amygdala may serve as a molecular gateway from use to abuse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.10.020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4417085PMC
March 2016

Levetiracetam results in increased and decreased alcohol drinking with different access procedures in C57BL/6J mice.

Behav Pharmacol 2014 Feb;25(1):61-70

aDepartment of Neurology bBowles Center for Alcohol Studies cNeurobiology, Curriculum University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

The antiepileptic levetiracetam (LEV) has been investigated for the treatment of alcohol abuse. However, little is known about how LEV alters the behavioral effects of alcohol in laboratory animals. The acute effects of LEV on alcohol drinking by male C57BL/6J mice were investigated using two different drinking procedures, limited access [drinking-in-the-dark (DID)] and intermittent access (IA) drinking. In the first experiment (DID), mice had access to a single bottle containing alcohol or sucrose for 4 h every other day. In the second experiment (IA), mice had IA to two bottles, one containing alcohol or sucrose and one containing water, for 24 h on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In both experiments, mice were administered LEV (0.3-100 mg/kg intraperitoneally) or vehicle 30 min before access to the drinking solutions. In the DID mice, LEV increased alcohol intake from 4.3 to 5.4 g/kg, whereas in the IA mice LEV decreased alcohol intake from 4.8 to 3.0 g/kg in the first 4 h of access and decreased 24 h alcohol intake from 20 to ∼15 g/kg. These effects appear specific to alcohol, as LEV did not affect sucrose intake in either experiment. LEV appears to differentially affect drinking in animal models of moderate and heavier alcohol consumption.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/FBP.0000000000000019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3884554PMC
February 2014

Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) and intracranial self-stimulation in C57BL/6J mice: comparison to cocaine.

Behav Brain Res 2012 Sep 21;234(1):76-81. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Department of Neurology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7025 , USA.

The recreational use of cathinone-derived synthetic stimulants, also known as "bath salts", has increased during the last five years. A commonly abused drug in this class is mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone or "meow-meow"), which alters mood and produces euphoria in humans. Intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) measures the behavioral effects of neuroactive compounds on brain reward circuitry. We used ICSS to investigate the ability of mephedrone and cocaine to alter responding for electrical stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle in C57BL/6J mice. Adult male C57BL/6J mice (n=6) implanted with unipolar stimulating electrodes at the level of the lateral hypothalamus responded for varying frequencies of brain stimulation reward (BSR). The frequency that supported half maximal responding (EF50), the BSR threshold (θ(0)), and the maximum response rate were determined before and after intraperitoneal administration of saline, mephedrone (1.0, 3.0, or 10.0 mg/kg), or cocaine (1.0, 3.0, or 10.0 mg/kg). Mephedrone dose-dependently decreased EF50 (max. effect=72.3% of baseline), θ(0) (max. effect=59.6% of baseline), and the maximum response rate (max. effect=67.0% of baseline) beginning 15 min after administration. Beginning immediately after administration, cocaine dose-dependently lowered EF50 (max. effect=66.4% of baseline) and θ(0) (max. effect=60.1% of baseline) but did not affect maximum response rate. These results suggest that mephedrone, like cocaine, potentiates BSR, which may indicate its potential for abuse. Given the public health concern of stimulant abuse, future studies will be necessary to determine the cellular and behavioral effects of acute and chronic mephedrone use.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2012.06.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3408862PMC
September 2012
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