Effects of the GLP-1 Agonist Exendin-4 on Intravenous Ethanol Self-Administration in Mice

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Abstract

Background:

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists have been shown to decrease ethanol (EtOH) drinking in rodent assays. The GLP-1 system also powerfully modulates food and fluid intake, gastrointestinal functions, and metabolism. To begin to understand the neurobiological mechanisms by which GLP-1 receptor ligands may be able to control EtOH intake, it is important to ascertain whether they can modulate the direct reinforcing effects of EtOH, without the confound of effects on ingestive behaviors generally.

Methods:

We trained experimentally naïve, free-fed C57BL/6J mice to self-administer EtOH intravenously. Once stable EtOH intake was acquired, we tested the effect of acute pretreatment with the GLP-1 receptor agonist Exendin-4. Effect of Exendin-4 on operant behavior reinforced by a palatable liquid food was similarly evaluated as a control.

Results:

Intravenous EtOH functioned as a positive reinforcer in over half the mice tested. In mice that acquired self-administration, EtOH intake was high, indeed, reaching toxic doses; 3.2 μg/kg Exendin-4 decreased intravenous EtOH intake by at least 70%, but had no significant effect on food-maintained operant responding.

Conclusions:

This experiment produced 2 main conclusions. First, although technically challenging and yielding only moderate throughput, the intravenous self-administration procedure in mice is feasible, and sensitive to pharmacological manipulations. Second, GLP-1 receptor agonists can powerfully attenuate voluntary EtOH intake by directly modulating the reinforcing effects of EtOH. These findings support the potential usefulness of GLP-1 receptor ligands in the treatment of alcohol use disorder.

A glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist, Exendin-4, can powerfully attenuate voluntary ethanol intake by directly modulating the reinforcing effects of ethanol in intravenous self-administration in mice. These findings support the potential usefulness of GLP-1 receptor ligands in the treatment of alcohol use disorder.

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