Homer2 within the central nucleus of the amygdala modulates withdrawal-induced anxiety in a mouse model of binge-drinking
A history of binge-drinking decreases protein expression of the glutamate-related scaffolding protein Homer2 within the central nucleus of the amygdala (CEA), coinciding with behavioral signs of negative affect. To assess the functional relevance of this protein change for withdrawal-induced hyper-anxiety, adult (PND 56) and adolescent (PND 28) male C57BL/6J mice were administered an intra-CEA infusion of an adeno-associated viral vector (AAV) carrying either cDNA to express Homer2 (H2-cDNA) or GFP as control. Mice underwent 14 days of binge-drinking under multi-bottle, limited-access conditions and were assayed for behavioral signs of negative affect during withdrawal using the light-dark box, marble burying, and forced swim tests (FST). Following behavioral testing, all animals experienced 5 days of drinking to evaluate the effects of prior alcohol experience and Homer2 manipulation on subsequent alcohol consumption. During protracted (4 weeks) withdrawal, adolescent alcohol-experienced GFP controls showed increased signs of negative affect across all 3 assays, compared to water-drinking GFP animals, and also showed elevated alcohol consumption during the subsequent drinking period. Homer2-cDNA infusion in adolescent-onset alcohol-drinking animals was anxiolytic and reduced subsequent alcohol consumption. Conversely, Homer2-cDNA was anxiogenic and increased drinking in water-drinking adolescents. Unfortunately, the data from adult-onset alcohol-drinking animals were confounded by low alcohol consumption and negligible behavioral signs of anxiety. Nevertheless, the present results provide novel cause-effect evidence supporting a role for CEA Homer2 in the regulation of both basal anxiety and the time-dependent intensification of negative affective states in individuals with a history of binge-drinking during adolescence.