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Friday, March 23, 2012

Ethanol up-regulates nucleus accumbens neuronal activity dependent pentraxin (Narp): implications for alcohol-induced behavioral plasticity

Neuronal activity dependent pentraxin (Narp) interacts with α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) glutamate receptors to facilitate excitatory synapse formation by aggregating them at established synapses. Alcohol is well-characterized to influence central glutamatergic transmission, including AMPA receptor function.

Herein, we examined the influence of injected and ingested alcohol upon Narp protein expression, as well as basal Narp expression in mouse lines selectively bred for high blood alcohol concentrations under limited access conditions.

Alcohol up-regulated accumbens Narp levels, concomitant with increases in levels of the GluR1 AMPA receptor subunit. However, accumbens Narp or GluR1 levels did not vary as a function of selectively bred genotype.

We next employed a
Narp knock-out (KO) strategy to begin to understand the behavioral relevance of alcohol-induced changes in protein expression in several assays of alcohol reward.

Compared to wild-type mice,
Narp KO animals: fail to escalate daily intake of high alcohol concentrations under free-access conditions; shift their preference away from high alcohol concentrations with repeated alcohol experience; exhibit a conditioned place-aversion in response to the repeated pairing of 3 g/kg alcohol with a distinct environment and fail to exhibit alcohol-induced locomotor hyperactivity following repeated alcohol treatment.

Narp deletion did not influence the daily intake of either food or water, nor did it alter any aspect of spontaneous or alcohol-induced motor activity, including the development of tolerance to its motor-impairing effects with repeated treatment.

Taken together, these data indicate that Narp induction, and presumably subsequent aggregation of AMPA receptors, may be important for neuroplasticity within limbic subcircuits mediating or maintaining the rewarding properties of alcohol.

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