The neurobiological mechanisms controlling the transition from alcohol use to abuse are poorly understood. Our overall approach is to examine vulnerable populations to highlight specific cellular/molecular pathways involved in this transition. For example, human adolescents exposed to heavy alcohol use are at much greater risk for the development of alcoholism as adults. Recent studies suggest similar liabilities for adolescent animals including rodents. Our published work indicates adolescent chronic ethanol exposure differentially modulates both glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission in the lateral/basolateral amygdala (BLA), a `node' within circuits critical for the integration cognitive and sensory information during emotional responses, in an input-specific fashion. Our data also suggest a critical role for mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)- dependent signaling cascades in synaptic strengthening. Further, we provide preliminary data suggesting that many of these synaptic effects are absent or greatly diminished in adult animals. This suggests that mTOR- dependent signaling directly regulates synaptic modulation during adolescent ethanol exposure. The overall goal of the current project is to therefore use a well-established ethanol vapor exposure in adolescent rats to understand the long-term impact of this exposure in adult animals by integrating cellular, molecular, and behavioral methodologies. The proposed work includes three specific aims:
Aim 1 will characterize the effects of adolescent ethanol exposure on adult BLA glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission using whole- cell patch clamp electrophysiology;
Aim 2 will describe the effect of adolescent ethanol exposure on mTOR signaling in both postsynaptic and presynaptic compartments in the BLA; and, Aim 3 will examine pharmacological intervention along the mTOR-signaling pathway and its impact on the long-term behavioral consequences of adolescent ethanol exposure. Together these aims are significant because they leverage a vulnerable population (adolescents), innovative technical and conceptual approaches, and the substantial expertise of our research team to help identify specific cellular signaling processes governing the impact of ethanol exposure across multiple levels of analysis. We will directly test if these signaling processes represent potential therapeutic targets for treatments designed to interrupt the transition from ethanol use to abuse.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Type
Specialized Center (P50)
Project #
5P50AA026117-03
Application #
9830557
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2019-12-01
Budget End
2020-11-30
Support Year
3
Fiscal Year
2020
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Department
Type
DUNS #
937727907
City
Winston-Salem
State
NC
Country
United States
Zip Code
27157
Alexander, Nancy J; Rau, Andrew R; Jimenez, Vanessa A et al. (2018) SNARE Complex-Associated Proteins in the Lateral Amygdala of Macaca mulatta Following Long-Term Ethanol Drinking. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 42:1661-1673
Mayhugh, Rhiannon E; Laurienti, Paul J; Fanning, Jason et al. (2018) Cardiac vagal dysfunction moderates patterns of craving across the day in moderate to heavy consumers of alcohol. PLoS One 13:e0200424
McGuier, Natalie S; Rinker, Jennifer A; Cannady, Reginald et al. (2018) Identification and validation of midbrain Kcnq4 regulation of heavy alcohol consumption in rodents. Neuropharmacology 138:10-19
Mayhugh, Rhiannon E; Rejeski, W Jack; Petrie, Meredith R et al. (2018) Differing patterns of stress and craving across the day in moderate-heavy alcohol consumers during their typical drinking routine and an imposed period of alcohol abstinence. PLoS One 13:e0195063
Deal, Alex L; Konstantopoulos, Joanne K; Weiner, Jeff L et al. (2018) Exploring the consequences of social defeat stress and intermittent ethanol drinking on dopamine dynamics in the rat nucleus accumbens. Sci Rep 8:332
Melchior, James R; Jones, Sara R (2017) Chronic ethanol exposure increases inhibition of optically targeted phasic dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens core and medial shell ex vivo. Mol Cell Neurosci 85:93-104