Alcohol use disorders emerge from a complex interaction between environmental and genetic factors. Stress and dopamine D2 receptor levels (DRD2) have been shown to play a central role in alcoholism.
To better understand the interactions between DRD2 and stress in ethanol intake behavior, we subjected Drd2 wild-type (+/+), heterozygous (+/−), and knockout (−/−) mice to 4 weeks of
We show that under no CMS, Drd2+/− and Drd2−/− mice had lower ethanol intake and preference compared with Drd2+/+. Exposure to CMS decreased ethanol intake and preference in Drd2+/+ and increased them in Drd2+/− and Drd2−/− mice. At baseline, Drd2+/− and Drd2−/− mice had significantly lower activity in the open field than Drd2+/+, whereas no genotype differences were observed in the forced swim test. Exposure to CMS increased immobility during the forced swim test in Drd2+/− mice, but not in Drd2+/+ or Drd2−/− mice, and ethanol intake reversed this behavior. No changes were observed in open field test measures.
These findings suggest that in the presence of a stressful environment, low DRD2 levels are associated with increased ethanol intake and preference and that under this condition, increased ethanol consumption could be used as a strategy to alleviate negative mood.
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