Publications

2018
Hilderbrand ER, Lasek AW. Estradiol enhances ethanol reward in female mice through activation of ERα and ERβ. Hormones and Behavior. 2018;98 :159-164.Abstract
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) manifests differently in men and women, but little is known about sex differences in the brain's response to ethanol. It is known that the steroid hormone 17β-estradiol (E2) regulates voluntary ethanol consumption in female rodents. However, the role of E2 as a regulator of ethanol reward has not been investigated. In this study, we tested for the effects of E2 and agonists selective for the classical estrogen receptors, ERα and ERβ, on ethanol reward in ovariectomized (OVX) mice using the conditioned place preference (CPP) test. E2 enhanced ethanol CPP and, while specific activation of either receptor alone had no effect, co-activation of ERα and ERβ also enhanced ethanol CPP, suggesting that E2 enhances ethanol reward in female mice through actions at both ERα and ERβ. These results have implications for sex differences in the development of AUD, suggesting that women may find ethanol more rewarding than men because of higher circulating E2 levels.
Huitron-Resendiz S, Nadav T, Krause S, Cates-Gatto C, Polis I, Roberts AJ. Effects of withdrawal from chronic intermittent ethanol exposure on sleep characteristics of female and male mice. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2018;42 :540-550.Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Sleep disruptions are an important consequence of alcohol use disorders. There is a dearth of preclinical studies examining sex differences in sleep patterns associated with ethanol (EtOH) dependence despite documented sex differences in alcohol-related behaviors and withdrawal symptoms. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of chronic intermittent EtOH on sleep characteristics in female and male mice.

METHODS:

Female and male C57BL6/J mice had access to EtOH/water 2-bottle choice (2BC) 2 h/d for 3 weeks followed by exposure to EtOH vapor (vapor-2BC) or air for 5 cycles of 4 days. An additional group never experienced EtOH (naïve). Mice were implanted with electroencephalographic (EEG) electrodes, and vigilance states were recorded across 24 hours on the fourth day of withdrawal. The amounts of wakefulness, slow-wave sleep (SWS), and rapid eye movement sleep were calculated, and spectral analysis was performed by fast Fourier transformation.

RESULTS:

Overall, vapor-2BC mice showed a decrease in the amount of SWS 4 days into withdrawal as well as a decrease in the power density of slow waves, indicating disruptions in both the amount and quality of sleep in EtOH-dependent mice. This was associated with a decrease in duration and an increase in number of SWS episodes in males and an increase in latency to sleep in females.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results revealed overall deficits in sleep regulation in EtOH-dependent mice of both sexes. Female mice appeared to be more affected with regard to the triggering of sleep, while male mice appeared more sensitive to disruptions in the maintenance of sleep.

Iancu OD, Colville A, Walter NAR, Darakjian P, Oberbeck DL, Daunais JB, Zheng CL, Searles RP, McWeeney SK, Grant KA, et al. On the relationships in rhesus macaques between chronic ethanol consumption and the brain transcriptome. Addiction Biology. 2018;23 :196-205.Abstract
This is the first description of the relationship between chronic ethanol self-administration and the brain transcriptome in a non-human primate (rhesus macaque). Thirty-one male animals self-administered ethanol on a daily basis for over 12 months. Gene transcription was quantified with RNA-Seq in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) and cortical Area 32. We constructed coexpression and cosplicing networks, and we identified areas of preservation and areas of differentiation between regions and network types. Correlations between intake and transcription included largely distinct gene sets and annotation categories across brain regions and between expression and splicing; positive and negative correlations were also associated with distinct annotation groups. Membrane, synaptic and splicing annotation categories were over-represented in the modules (gene clusters) enriched in positive correlations (CeA); our cosplicing analysis further identified the genes affected only at the exon inclusion level. In the CeA coexpression network, we identified Rab6b, Cdk18 and Igsf21 among the intake-correlated hubs, while in the Area 32, we identified a distinct hub set that included Ppp3r1 and Myeov2. Overall, the data illustrate that excessive ethanol self-administration is associated with broad expression and splicing mechanisms that involve membrane and synapse genes.
Kirson D, Oleata CS, Parsons LH, Ciccocioppo R, Roberto M. CB(1) and ethanol effects on glutamatergic transmission in the central amygdala of male and female msP and Wistar rats. Addiction Biology. 2018;Mar;23(2) :676-68.Abstract
The central amygdala (CeA) is involved in the processing of anxiety and stress and plays a role in ethanol consumption. Chronic ethanol recruits stress systems in the CeA, leading to aversive withdrawal symptoms. Although primarily GABAergic, CeA contains glutamatergic afferents, and we have reported inhibitory effects of ethanol on locally evoked glutamatergic responses in CeA of Wistar and Marchigian Sardinian alcohol-preferring (msP) rats. Notably, msP rats display enhanced anxiety, stress and alcohol drinking, simulating the alcohol-dependent phenotype. Endocannabinoids are also involved in regulation of stress, and we previously demonstrated that cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1 ) activation decreases CeA GABAergic signaling and blocks ethanol enhancement of GABAergic signaling. Here, we sought to investigate the effects of CB1 activation (WIN 55,212-2; Win) and antagonism (AM251) with and without acute ethanol on glutamatergic synapses in CeA of female and male Wistar and msP rats. Using intracellular sharp pipette electrophysiology, we examined the effects of CB1 compounds on locally evoked excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) in CeA and compared effects between strains, gender and estrous cycle. Acute ethanol decreased EPSP amplitudes in Wistars, and in male but not female msPs. Win decreased EPSP amplitudes in msPs, and in male but not female Wistars. Combined application of Win and ethanol resulted in strain-specific effects in female rats. We found no tonic CB1 signaling at glutamatergic synapses in CeA of any groups, and no interaction with ethanol. Collectively, these observations demonstrate sex-strain-specific differences in ethanol and endocannabinoid effects on CeA glutamatergic signaling.
Osterndorff-Kahanek EA, Tiwari GR, Lopez MF, Becker HC, Harris RA, Mayfield RD. . Long-term ethanol exposure: temporal pattern of microRNA expression and associated mRNA gene networks in mouse brain. PLoS One. 2018;13 ((1) :e0190841.Abstract
Long-term alcohol use can result in lasting changes in brain function, ultimately leading to alcohol dependence. These functional alterations arise from dysregulation of complex gene networks, and growing evidence implicates microRNAs as key regulators of these networks. We examined time- and brain region-dependent changes in microRNA expression after chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) exposure in C57BL/6J mice. Animals were sacrificed at 0, 8, and 120h following the last exposure to four weekly cycles of CIE vapor and we measured microRNA expression in prefrontal cortex (PFC), nucleus accumbens (NAC), and amygdala (AMY). The number of detected (395–419) and differentially expressed (DE, 42–47) microRNAs was similar within each brain region. However, the DE microRNAs were distinct among brain regions and across time within each brain region. DE microRNAs were linked with their DE mRNA targets across each brain region. In all brain regions, the greatest number of DE mRNA targets occurred at the 0 or 8h time points and these changes were associated with microRNAs DE at 0 or 8h. Two separate approaches (discrete temporal association and hierarchical clustering) were combined with pathway analysis to further characterize the temporal relationships between DE microRNAs and their 120h DE targets. We focused on targets dysregulated at 120h as this time point represents a state of protracted withdrawal known to promote an increase in subsequent ethanol consumption. Discrete temporal association analysis identified networks with highly connected genes including ERK1/2 (mouse equivalent Mapk3, Mapk1), Bcl2 (in AMY networks) and Srf (in PFC networks). Similarly, the cluster-based analysis identified hub genes that include Bcl2 (in AMY networks) and Srf in PFC networks, demonstrating robust microRNA-mRNA network alterations in response to CIE exposure. In contrast, datasets utilizing targets from 0 and 8h microRNAs identified NF-kB-centered networks (in NAC and PFC), and Smad3-centered networks (in AMY). These results demonstrate that CIE exposure results in dynamic and complex temporal changes in microRNA-mRNA gene network structure.
Renteria R, Buske TR, Morrisett RA. Long-term subregion-specific encoding of enhanced ethanol intake by D1DR medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens. Addiction Biology. 2018;23 :689-698.Abstract
While the risks of maternal alcohol abuse during pregnancy are well-established, several preclinical studies suggest that chronic preconception alcohol consumption by either parent may also have significance consequences for offspring health and development. Notably, since isogenic male mice used in these studies are not involved in gestation or rearing of offspring, the cross-generational effects of paternal alcohol exposure suggest a germline-based epigenetic mechanism. Many recent studies have demonstrated that the effects of paternal environmental exposures such as stress or malnutrition can be transmitted to the next generation via alterations to small noncoding RNAs in sperm. Therefore, we used high throughput sequencing to examine the effect of preconception ethanol on small noncoding RNAs in sperm. We found that chronic intermittent ethanol exposure altered several small noncoding RNAs from three of the major small RNA classes in sperm, tRNA-derived small RNA (tDR), mitochondrial small RNA, and microRNA. Six of the ethanol-responsive small noncoding RNAs were evaluated with RT-qPCR on a separate cohort of mice and five of the six were confirmed to be altered by chronic ethanol exposure, supporting the validity of the sequencing results. In addition to altered sperm RNA abundance, chronic ethanol exposure affected post-transcriptional modifications to sperm small noncoding RNAs, increasing two nucleoside modifications previously identified in mitochondrial tRNA. Furthermore, we found that chronic ethanol reduced epididymal expression of a tRNA methyltransferase, Nsun2, known to directly regulate tDR biogenesis. Finally, ethanol-responsive sperm tDR are similarly altered in extracellular vesicles of the epididymis (i.e., epididymosomes), supporting the hypothesis that alterations to sperm tDR emerge in the epididymis and that epididymosomes are the primary source of small noncoding RNAs in sperm. These results add chronic ethanol to the growing list of paternal exposures that can affect small noncoding RNA abundance and nucleoside modifications in sperm. As small noncoding RNAs in sperm have been shown to causally induce heritable phenotypes in offspring, additional research is warranted to understand the potential effects of ethanol-responsive sperm small noncoding RNAs on offspring health and development.
Rompala GR, Mounier A, Wolfe CM, Lin Q, Lefterov I, Homanics GE. Heavy chronic intermittent ethanol exposure alters small noncoding RNAs in mouse sperm and epididymosomes. Frontiers in Genetics. 2018;9 :32.Abstract
While the risks of maternal alcohol abuse during pregnancy are well-established, several preclinical studies suggest that chronic preconception alcohol consumption by either parent may also have significance consequences for offspring health and development. Notably, since isogenic male mice used in these studies are not involved in gestation or rearing of offspring, the cross-generational effects of paternal alcohol exposure suggest a germline-based epigenetic mechanism. Many recent studies have demonstrated that the effects of paternal environmental exposures such as stress or malnutrition can be transmitted to the next generation via alterations to small noncoding RNAs in sperm. Therefore, we used high throughput sequencing to examine the effect of preconception ethanol on small noncoding RNAs in sperm. We found that chronic intermittent ethanol exposure altered several small noncoding RNAs from three of the major small RNA classes in sperm, tRNA-derived small RNA (tDR), mitochondrial small RNA, and microRNA. Six of the ethanol-responsive small noncoding RNAs were evaluated with RT-qPCR on a separate cohort of mice and five of the six were confirmed to be altered by chronic ethanol exposure, supporting the validity of the sequencing results. In addition to altered sperm RNA abundance, chronic ethanol exposure affected post-transcriptional modifications to sperm small noncoding RNAs, increasing two nucleoside modifications previously identified in mitochondrial tRNA. Furthermore, we found that chronic ethanol reduced epididymal expression of a tRNA methyltransferase, Nsun2, known to directly regulate tDR biogenesis. Finally, ethanol-responsive sperm tDR are similarly altered in extracellular vesicles of the epididymis (i.e., epididymosomes), supporting the hypothesis that alterations to sperm tDR emerge in the epididymis and that epididymosomes are the primary source of small noncoding RNAs in sperm. These results add chronic ethanol to the growing list of paternal exposures that can affect small noncoding RNA abundance and nucleoside modifications in sperm. As small noncoding RNAs in sperm have been shown to causally induce heritable phenotypes in offspring, additional research is warranted to understand the potential effects of ethanol-responsive sperm small noncoding RNAs on offspring health and development.
Satta R, Hilderbrand ER, Lasek AW. Ovarian hormones contribute to high levels of binge-like drinking by female mice. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2018;42 :286-294.Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recently, the incidence of binge drinking by women has increased. Binge drinking is detrimental to women's health, yet the biological mechanisms that promote excessive drinking by women are not well understood. One method of assessing binge-like ethanol (EtOH) consumption in mice is the drinking in the dark (DID) test, in which mice drink sufficient EtOH to achieve intoxication. In this study, we directly compared male, female, and ovariectomized (OVX) mice for DID and tested whether 17β-estradiol (E2) contributes to DID. We also measured whether DID varies throughout the estrous cycle and whether repeated intermittent DID impacts the estrous cycle.

METHODS:

Male, female, and OVX C57BL/6J mice were tested for DID for 2 hours per day on days 1 to 3 and for 4 hours on day 4 using a single bottle containing 20% EtOH. To measure the effects of E2 on DID, OVX mice were treated with estradiol benzoate (EB) or vehicle daily starting 2 weeks prior to the drinking test and throughout the DID procedure. In a separate group of experiments, EtOH consumption and estrous cycle phase were measured in freely cycling mice that were drinking EtOH or water 5 days per week for 2 or 6 weeks.

RESULTS:

Female mice consumed more EtOH than male and OVX mice. Treatment with EB increased EtOH consumption by OVX mice compared with vehicle-treated controls. However, EtOH intake did not vary across the estrous cycle, nor did long-term DID alter the estrous cycle.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results demonstrate that ovarian hormones, specifically E2, contribute to increased EtOH consumption by female mice in the DID test. Although ovarian hormones contribute to this behavior, EtOH consumption is not affected by estrous cycle phase in freely cycling mice. This study provides a framework for understanding the factors that contribute to binge drinking in females.

Varodayan FP, Sidhu H, Kreifeldt M, Roberto M, Contet C. Morphological and functional evidence of increased excitatory signaling in the prelimbic cortex during ethanol withdrawal. Neuropharmacology. 2018;133 :470-480.Abstract
Excessive alcohol consumption in humans induces deficits in decision making and emotional processing, which indicates a dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The present study aimed to determine the impact of chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) inhalation on mouse medial PFC pyramidal neurons. Data were collected 6–8 days into withdrawal from 7 weeks of CIE exposure, a time point when mice exhibit behavioral symptoms of withdrawal. We found that spine maturity in prelimbic (PL) layer 2/3 neurons was increased, while dendritic spines in PL layer 5 neurons or infralimbic (IL) neurons were not affected. Corroborating these morphological observations, CIE enhanced glutamatergic transmission in PL layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons, but not IL layer 2/3 neurons. Contrary to our predictions, these cellular alterations were associated with improved, rather than impaired, performance in reversal learning and strategy switching tasks in the Barnes maze at an earlier stage of chronic ethanol exposure (5–7 days withdrawal from 3 to 4 weeks of CIE), which could result from the anxiety-like behavior associated with ethanol withdrawal. Altogether, this study adds to a growing body of literature indicating that glutamatergic activity in the PFC is upregulated following chronic ethanol exposure, and identifies PL layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons as a sensitive target of synaptic remodeling. It also indicates that the Barnes maze is not suitable to detect deficits in cognitive flexibility in CIE-withdrawn mice.
2017
Mahnke AH, Miranda RC, GE. H. Epigenetic mediators and consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol [Internet]. 2017;60 :1-6. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Alcohol has pleiotropic effects across multiple organ systems, including brain, cardio-vascularendocrine, immune, musculoskeletal, and gastrointestinal systems. Moreover, some effects, such as intoxication, can be brief, but others, such as the development of Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs), cardiovascular disease, and liver damage, can persist for a lifetime. Effects resulting in encoding of endocrine and other dysfunctions can also persist across generations. This complexity creates a barrier to the creation of therapeutics and discovery of biomarkers. However, we know that environmental factors, which can include drugs of abuse such as alcohol, can have short- and long-term effects on gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms (Holliday, 2006Shukla et al., 2008). Epigenetic mechanisms affect the transcription and translation of many genes simultaneously. Therefore, by understanding the mechanics of these epigenetic changes, we will have the ability to craft powerful new therapeutics to offset negative effects of alcohol exposure.
Le Berre AP, Fama R, EV S. Executive functions, memory, and social cognitive deficits and recovery in chronic alcoholism: a critical review to inform future research. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research [Internet]. 2017;41 :1432-1443. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Alcoholism is a complex and dynamic disease, punctuated by periods of abstinence and relapse, and influenced by a multitude of vulnerability factors. Chronic excessive alcohol consumption is associated with cognitive deficits, ranging from mild to severe, in executivefunctions, memory, and metacognitive abilities, with associated impairment in emotional processes and social cognition. These deficits can compromise efforts in initiating and sustaining abstinence by hampering efficacy of clinical treatment and can obstruct efforts in enabling good decision making success in interpersonal/social interactions, and awareness of cognitive and behavioral dysfunctions. Despite evidence for differences in recovery levels of selective cognitive processes, certain deficits can persist even with prolonged sobriety. Herein is presented a review of alcohol-related cognitive impairments affecting component processes of executive functioning, memory, and the recently investigated cognitive domains of metamemory, social cognition, and emotional processing; also considered are trajectories of cognitiverecovery with abstinence. Finally, in the spirit of critical review, limitations of current knowledge are noted and avenues for new researchefforts are proposed that focus on (i) the interaction among emotion-cognition processes and identification of vulnerability factors contributing to the development of emotional and social processing deficits and (ii) the time line of cognitive recovery by tracking alcoholism's dynamic course of sobriety and relapse. Knowledge about the heterochronicity of cognitive recovery in alcoholism has the potential of indicating at which points during recovery intervention may be most beneficial.

Ji X, Saha S, Gao G, Lasek AW, Homanics GE, Guildford M, Tapper AR, GE. M. The sodium channel β4 auxiliary subunit selectively controls long-term depression in core nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience [Internet]. 2017;11 :17. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Voltage-gated sodium channels are essential for generating the initial rapid depolarization of neuronal membrane potential during action potentials (APs) that enable cell-to-cell communication, the propagation of signals throughout the brain, and the induction of synaptic plasticity. Although all brain neurons express one or several variants coding for the core pore-forming sodium channel α subunit, the expression of the β (β1-4) auxiliary subunits varies greatly. Of particular interest is the β4 subunit, encoded by the Scn4b gene, that is highly expressed in dorsal and ventral (i.e., nucleus accumbens - NAc) striata compared to other brain regions, and that endows sodium channels with unique gating properties. However, its role on neuronal activity, synaptic plasticity, and behaviors related to drugs of abuse remains poorly understood. Combining whole-cell patch-clamp recordings with two-photon calcium imaging in Scn4b knockout (KO) and knockdown mice, we found that Scn4b altered the properties of APs in core accumbens medium spiny neurons (MSNs). These alterations are associated with a reduction of the probability of MSNs to evoke spike-timing-dependent long-term depression (tLTD) and a reduced ability of backpropagating APs to evoke dendritic calcium transients. In contrast, long-term potentiation (tLTP) remained unaffected. Interestingly, we also showed that amphetamine-induced locomotor activity was significantly reduced in male Scn4b KO mice compared to wild-type controls. Taken together, these data indicate that the Scn4b subunit selectively controls tLTD by modulating dendritic calcium transients evoked by backpropagating APs.

Hitzemann R, Oberbeck D, Iancu O, Darakjian P, McWeeney S, Spence S, Schlumbohm J, Metten P, Crabbe J. Alignment of the transcriptome with individual variation in animals selectively bred for High Drinking-In-the-Dark (HDID). Alcohol [Internet]. 2017;60 :115-120. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Among animals at risk for excessive ethanol consumption such as the HDID selected mouse lines, there is considerable individual variation in the amount of ethanol consumed and the associated blood ethanol concentrations (BECs). For the HDID lines, this variation occurs even though the residual genetic variation associated with the DID phenotype has been largely exhausted and thus is most likely associated with epigenetic factors. Here we focus on the question of whether the genes associated with individual variation in HDID-1 mice are different from those associated with selection (risk) (Iancu et al., 2013). Thirty-three HDID-1 mice were phenotyped for their BECs at the end of a standard DID trial, were sacrificed 3 weeks later, and RNA-Seq was used to analyze the striatal transcriptome. The data obtained illustrate that there is considerable overlap of the risk and variation gene sets, both focused on the fine-tuning of synaptic plasticity.

Hashimoto JG, Gavin DP, Wiren KM, Crabbe JC, M. G. Prefrontal cortex expression of chromatin modifier genes in male WSP and WSR mice changes across ethanol dependence, withdrawal, and abstinence. Alcohol [Internet]. 2017;60 :83-94. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Alcohol-use disorder (AUD) is a relapsing disorder associated with excessive ethanol consumption. Recent studies support the involvement of epigenetic mechanisms in the development of AUD. Studies carried out so far have focused on a few specific epigenetic modifications. The goal of this project was to investigate gene expression changes of epigenetic regulators that mediate a broad array of chromatinmodifications after chronic alcohol exposure, chronic alcohol exposure followed by 8 h withdrawal, and chronic alcohol exposure followed by 21 days of abstinence in Withdrawal-Resistant (WSR) and Withdrawal Seizure-Prone (WSP) selected mouse lines. We found that chronic vapor exposure to highly intoxicating levels of ethanol alters the expression of several chromatin remodeling genes measured by quantitative PCR array analyses. The identified effects were independent of selected lines, which, however, displayed baseline differences in epigenetic gene expression. We reported dysregulation in the expression of genes involved in histone acetylation, deacetylation, lysine and arginine methylation and ubiquitinationhylation during chronic ethanol exposure and withdrawal, but not after 21 days of abstinence. Ethanol-induced changes are consistent with decreased histone acetylation and with decreased deposition of the permissive ubiquitination mark H2BK120ub, associated with reduced transcription. On the other hand, ethanol-induced changes in the expression of genes involved in histone lysine methylation are consistent with increased transcription. The net result of these modifications on gene expression is likely to depend on the combination of the specific histone tail modifications present at a given time on a given promoter. Since alcohol does not modulate gene expression unidirectionally, it is not surprising that alcohol does not unidirectionally alter chromatin structure toward a closed or open state, as suggested by the results of this study.
Dutton JW 3rd, Chen H, You C, Brodie MS, AW. L. Anaplastic lymphoma kinase regulates binge-like drinking and dopamine receptor sensitivity in the ventral tegmental area. Addiction Biology [Internet]. 2017;22 :665-678. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is a receptor tyrosine kinase associated with alcohol dependence in humans and behavioral responses to ethanol in mice. To characterize the ability of ALK to control ethanol consumption, we treated mice with the ALK inhibitors TAE684 or alectinib before testing them for binge-like drinking using the drinking in the dark protocol. Mice treated with ALK inhibitors drank less ethanol than controls. In addition, TAE684 treatment abolished ethanol conditioned place preference, indicating that ALK regulates the rewarding properties of ethanol. Because the ventral tegmental area (VTA) is a key brain region involved in the rewarding effects of ethanol, we determined if Alk expression in the VTA is important for binge-like ethanol consumption. Mice expressing a short hairpin ribonucleic acid targeting Alk in the VTA drank less ethanol compared with controls. ALK is expressed on dopamine (DA) neurons in the VTA, suggesting that ALK might regulate their firing properties. Extracellular recordings of putative DA neurons in VTA slices demonstrated that ALK inhibition did not affect the ability of ethanol to stimulate, or DA to inhibit, the firing of DA neurons. However, inhibiting ALK attenuated the time-dependent reversal of inhibition produced by moderate concentrations of DA, suggesting that ALK affects DA D2 autoreceptor (D2R) desensitization. Altered desensitization of the D2R changes the firing of DA neurons and is predicted to affect DA levels and alcohol drinking. These data support the possibility that ALK might be a novel target of pharmacotherapy for reducing excessive alcohol consumption.

Dir AL, Bell RL, Adams ZW, LA. H. Gender differences in risk factors for adolescent binge drinking and implications for intervention and prevention. Frontiers in Psychiatry [Internet]. 2017;8 :289. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Alcohol use, particularly binge drinking (BD), is a major public health concern among adolescents. Recent national data show that the gendergap in alcohol use is lessening, and BD among girls is rising. Considering the increase in BD among adolescent girls, as well as females' increased risk of experiencing more severe biopsychosocial negative effects and consequences from BD, the current review sought to examine gender differences in risk factors for BD. The review highlights gender differences in (1) developmental-related neurobiological vulnerability to BD, (2) psychiatric comorbidity and risk phenotypes for BD, and (3) social-related risk factors for BD among adolescents, as well as considerations for BD prevention and intervention. Most of the information gleaned thus far has come from preclinical research. However, it is expected that, with recent advances in clinical imaging technology, neurobiological effects observed in lower mammals will be confirmed in humans and vice versa. A synthesis of the literature highlights that males and females experience unique neurobiological paths of development, and although there is debate regarding the specific nature of these differences, literature suggests that these differences in turn influence gender differences in psychiatric comorbidity and risk for BD. For one, girls are more susceptible to stress, depression, and other internalizing behaviors and, in turn, these symptoms contribute to their risk for BD. On the other hand, males, given gender differencesacross the lifespan as well as gender differences in development, are driven by an externalizing phenotype for risk of BD, in part, due to unique paths of neurobiological development that occur across adolescence. With respect to social domains, although social and peer influences are important for both adolescent males and females, there are gender differences. For example, girls may be more sensitive to pressure from peers to fit in and impress others, while male gender role stereotypes regarding BD may be more of a risk factor for boys. Given these unique differences in male and female risk for BD, further research exploring risk factors, as well as tailoring intervention and prevention, is necessary. Although recent research has tailored substance use intervention to target males and females, more literature on gender considerations in treatment for prevention and intervention of BD in particular is warranted.
Ding ZM, Ingraham CM, Hauser SR, Lasek AW, Bell RL, WJ. MB. Reduced Levels of mGlu2 Receptors within the prelimbic cortex are not associated with elevated glutamate transmission or high alcohol drinking. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research [Internet]. 2017;41 :1896-1906. Publisher's VersionAbstract

BACKGROUND:

A Grm2 cys407* stop codon mutation, which results in a loss of the metabotropic glutamate 2 (mGlu2) receptor protein, was identified as being associated with high alcohol drinking by alcohol-preferring (P) rats. The objectives of the current study were to characterize the effects of reduced levels of mGlu2 receptors on glutamate transmission and alcohol drinking.

METHODS:

Quantitative no-net-flux microdialysis was used to test the hypothesis that basal extracellular glutamate levels in the prelimbic(PL) cortex and nucleus accumbens shell (NACsh) will be higher in P than Wistar rats. A lentiviral-delivered short-hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated knockdown was used to test the hypothesis that reduced levels of mGlu2 receptors within the PL cortex will increase voluntary alcohol drinking by Wistar rats. A linear regression analysis was used to test the hypothesis that there will be a significant correlation between the Grm2 cys407* mutation and level of alcohol intake.

RESULTS:

Extracellular glutamate concentrations within the PL cortex (3.6 ± 0.6 vs. 6.4 ± 0.6 μM) and NACsh (3.2 ± 0.4 vs. 6.6 ± 0.6 μM) were significantly lower in female P than female Wistar rats. Western blot detected the presence of mGlu2 receptors in these regions of female Wistar rats, but not female P rats. Micro-infusion of shRNAs into the PL cortex significantly reduced local mGlu2 receptor levels (by 40%), but did not alter voluntary alcohol drinking in male Wistar rats. In addition, there was no significant correlation between the Grm2 mutation and alcohol intake in 36 rodent lines (r = 0.29, p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

Collectively, these results suggest a lack of association between the loss of mGlu2 receptors and glutamate transmission in the NACsh and PL cortex of female P rats, and between the level of mGlu2 receptors in the PL cortex and alcohol drinking of male Wistar rats.

Crabbe JC. High Drinking in the Dark (HDID) mice are sensitive to the effects of some clinically relevant drugs to reduce binge-like drinking. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior [Internet]. 2017;169 :55-62. Publisher's VersionAbstract
There is a serious public health need for better understanding of alcohol use disorder disease mechanisms and for improved treatments. At this writing, only three drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration as medications to treat alcohol use disorders - disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate. Binge drinking is a form of abusive alcohol drinking defined by the NIAAA as a drinkingto blood alcohol levels (BALs)>0.08% during a period of approximately 2h. To model genetic risk for binge-like drinking, we have used selective breeding to create a unique animal model, High Drinking in the Dark (HDID) mice. Behavioral characterization of HDID mice has revealed that HDID mice exhibit behavioral impairment after drinking, withdrawal after a single binge-drinking session, and escalate their intake in response to induction of successive cycles of dependence. Notably, HDID mice do not exhibit altered tastant preference or alcohol clearance rates. We therefore asked whether drugs of known clinical relevance could modulate binge-like ethanol drinking in HDID mice, reasoning that this characterization of HDID responses should inform future use of this genetic animal model for screening and development of novel potential therapeutics.
Colville AM, Iancu OD, Oberbeck DL, Darakjian P, Zheng CL, Walter NA, Harrington CA, Searles RP, McWeeney S, RJ. H. Effects of selection for ethanol preference on gene expression in the nucleus accumbens of HS-CC mice. Genes Brain and Behavior [Internet]. 2017;16 (4) :462-471. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Previous studies on changes in murine brain gene expression associated with the selection for ethanol preference have used F2 intercross or heterogeneous stock (HS) founders, derived from standard laboratory strains. However, these populations represent only a small proportion of the genetic variance available in Mus musculus. To investigate a wider range of genetic diversity, we selected mice for ethanol preferenceusing an HS derived from the eight strains of the collaborative cross. These HS mice were selectively bred (four generations) for high and low ethanol preference. The nucleus accumbens shell of naive S4 mice was interrogated using RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq). Gene networks were constructed using the weighted gene coexpression network analysis assessing both coexpression and cosplicing. Selection targeted one of the network coexpression modules (greenyellow) that was significantly enriched in genes associated with receptor signaling activity including Chrna7, Grin2a, Htr2a and Oprd1. Connectivity in the module as measured by changes in the hub nodes was significantly reduced in the low preference line. Of particular interest was the observation that selection had marked effects on a large number of cell adhesion molecules, including cadherins and protocadherins. In addition, the coexpression data showed that selection had marked effects on long non-coding RNA hub nodes. Analysis of the cosplicing network data showed a significant effect of selection on a large cluster of Ras GTPase-binding genes including Cdkl5, Cyfip1, Ndrg1, Sod1 and Stxbp5. These data in part support the earlier observation that preference is linked to Ras/Mapk pathways.

Chen H, He D, AW. L. Midkine in the mouse ventral tegmental area limits ethanol intake and Ccl2 gene expression. Genes Brain and Behavior [Internet]. 2017;16 :699-708. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Midkine (MDK) is a cytokine and neurotrophic factor that is more highly expressed in the brains of alcoholics and in mice predisposed to drink large amounts of ethanol, suggesting that MDK may regulate ethanol consumption. Here we measured ethanol consumption in male and female Mdk knockout (-/-) mice using the two-bottle choice and the drinking in the dark (DID) tests. We found that Mdk -/- mice consumed significantly more ethanol than wild-type controls in both tests. To determine if MDK acts in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) to regulate ethanol consumption, we delivered lentivirus expressing a Mdk shRNA into the VTA of male C57BL/6J mice to locally knockdown Mdk and performed the DID test. Mice expressing a Mdk shRNA in the VTA consumed more ethanol than mice expressing a control non-targeting shRNA, demonstrating that the VTA is one site in the brain through which MDK acts to regulate ethanol consumption. Since MDK also controls the expression of inflammatory cytokines in other organs, we examined gene expression of interleukin-1 beta (Il1b), tumor necrosis factor alpha (Tnfα) and the chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (Ccl2) in the VTA of Mdk -/- mice and in mice expressing Mdk shRNA in the VTA. Expression of Ccl2 was elevated in the VTA of Mdk -/- mice and in mice expressing Mdk shRNA in the VTA. These results demonstrate that MDK functions in the VTA to limit ethanol consumption and levels of CCL2, a chemokine known to increase ethanol consumption.

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