To support the free and open dissemination of research findings and information on alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. To encourage open access to peer-reviewed articles free for all to view.

For full versions of posted research articles readers are encouraged to email requests for "electronic reprints" (text file, PDF files, FAX copies) to the corresponding or lead author, who is highlighted in the posting.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Accumbens Homer2-mediated signaling: A factor contributing to mouse strain differences in alcohol drinking?

Alcohol-induced increases in nucleus accumbens glutamate actively regulate alcohol consumption and the alcohol responsiveness of corticoaccumbens glutamate systems relates to genetic variance in alcohol reward.

Here, we extend earlier data for inbred mouse strain differences in accumbens glutamate by examining for differences in basal and alcohol-induced changes in the striatal expression of glutamate-related signaling molecules between inbred C57BL/6J and DBA2/J mice.
Repeated alcohol treatment (8 X 2 g/kg) increased the expression of Group1 metabotropic glutamate receptors, the NR2a/b subunits of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, Homer2a/b, as well as the activated forms of protein kinase C epsilon and phosphoinositol-3-kinase within ventral, but not dorsal, striatum.

Regardless of prior alcohol experience, C57BL/6J mice exhibited higher accumbens levels of mGluR1/5, Homer2a/b, NR2a and activated kinases versus DBA2/J mice, while an alcohol-induced rise in dorsal striatum mGluR1/5 expression was observed only in C57BL/6J mice.

We next employed virus-mediated gene transfer approaches to ascertain the functional relevance of the observed strain difference in accumbens Homer2 expression for B6/D2 differences in alcohol-induced glutamate sensitization, as well as alcohol preference/intake.

Manipulating NAC shell Homer2b expression actively regulated these measures in C57BL/6J mice, while DBA2/J mice were relatively insensitive to the neurochemical and behavioral effects of virus-mediated changes in Homer2 expression.

These data support the over-arching hypothesis that augmented accumbens Homer2-mediated glutamate signaling may be an endophenotype related to genetic variance in alcohol consumption.

If relevant to humans, such data pose polymorphisms affecting glutamate receptor/Homer2 signaling in the etiology of alcoholism.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail: