Underage alcohol drinking increases the risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD). In rodents, adolescent ethanol exposure augments ethanol consumption and anxiety-like behavior while reducing social interaction.
However, the underlying mechanisms driving these adaptations are not understood. The dopamine and kappa opioid receptor (KOR) systems in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) are implicated in affective disorders and AUD, with studies showing augmented KOR function and reduced dopamine transmission in ethanol-dependent adult animals. Thus, this study examined the impact of adolescent intermittent ethanol (AIE) exposure on dopamine transmissionand KOR function. Rats were exposed to water or ethanol (4 g/kg, intragastrically) every-other-day during early (PD25-45) or late (PD45-65) adolescence. While AIE exposure during early-mid adolescence (early AIE) did not alter dopamine release in male and female rats, AIE exposure during late adolescence (late AIE) resulted in greater dopamine release in males and lower dopamine release in females.
To determine the impact of AIE exposure on KOR function, we bath applied cumulative concentrations of KOR agonist, U50,488 (0.01-1.0 uM), and measured its effects on dopamine release. Early AIE exposure potentiated KOR-mediated inhibition of dopamine release in female rats, while late AIE exposure attenuated this effect in male rats. Together these data suggest that AIE-exposure impact on neural processes is dependent on sex and exposure timing. These differences likely arise from differential developmental timing in males and females.
This is the first study to show changes in KOR function following AIE exposure.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience