Deficits in the extinction of ethanol-seeking behavior following chronic intermittent ethanol exposure are attenuated with positive allosteric modulation of mGlu5

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Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disorder characterized by periods of heavy alcohol consumption and unsuccessful attempts at abstinence. Relapse is one of the most problematic aspects in the treatment of alcoholism and is triggered by ethanol-associated cues. Extinction-based cue exposure therapies have proven ineffective in the treatment of alcoholism. However, positive allosteric modulation of mGlu5 with CDPPB enhances the extinction learning of alcohol-seeking behavior. The current study investigated the impact of chronic alcohol exposure on the extinction of ethanol-seeking behavior. Adult Wistar rats were trained to self-administer alcohol with a light/tone stimulus serving as the alcohol cue. After training, one group of rats was exposed to chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) daily for a period of 2 weeks to induce ethanol dependence. Control rats were exposed to air for the same period of time. Both groups were then retrained to self-administer ethanol and subsequently tested for changes in extinction learning. CIE exposed rats consumed more ethanol compared to their pre-CIE levels and to control rats. During extinction training, CIE rats responded significantly more on the previously active lever and required more sessions to reach extinction criteria compared to control rats. Treatment with CDPPB facilitated extinction in control rats and attenuated the increased resistance to extinction in CIE-exposed rats. These results demonstrate that chronic ethanol exposure not only alters ethanol intake, but also the extinction of ethanol-seeking behaviors. The ability to attenuate deficits through modulation of mGlu5 provides a potential target for pharmacological manipulation that could ultimately reduce relapse in alcoholics.

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