Histamine is required for H3 receptor-mediated alcohol reward inhibition, but not for alcohol consumption or stimulation

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Background and Purpose

Conflicting data have been published on whether histamine is inhibitory to the rewarding effects of abused drugs. The purpose of this study was to clarify the role of neuronal histamine and, in particular, H3 receptors in alcohol dependence-related behaviours, which represent the addictive effects of alcohol.

Experimental Approach

Alcohol-induced conditioned place preference (alcohol-CPP) was used to measure alcohol reward. Alcohol-induced locomotor stimulation, alcohol consumption and kinetics were also assessed. mRNA levels were quantified using radioactive in situ hybridization.

Key Results

Low doses of H3 receptor antagonists, JNJ-10181457 and JNJ-39220675, inhibited alcohol reward in wild-type (WT) mice. However, these H3 receptor antagonists did not inhibit alcohol reward in histidine decarboxylase knock-out (HDC KO) mice and a lack of histamine did not alter alcohol consumption. Thus H3 receptor antagonists inhibited alcohol reward in a histamine-dependent manner. Furthermore, WT and HDC KO mice were similarly stimulated by alcohol. The expression levels of dopamine D1 and D2 receptors, STEP61 and DARPP-32 mRNA in striatal subregions were unaltered in HDC KO mice. No differences were seen in alcohol kinetics in HDC KO compared to WT control animals. In addition, JNJ-39220675 had no effect on alcohol kinetics in WT mice.

Conclusions and Implications

These data suggest that histamine is required for the H3 receptor-mediated inhibition of alcohol-CPP and support the hypothesis that the brain histaminergic system has an inhibitory role in alcohol reward. Increasing neuronal histamine release via H3 receptor blockade could therefore be a novel way of treating alcohol dependence.

Linked Articles

This article is part of a themed issue on Histamine Pharmacology Update. To view the other articles in this issue visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2013.170.issue-1

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