As ethanol dependence develops, intake transitions from controlled drinking to uncontrolled, compulsive, and excessive intake. Neuroadaptations that result from chronic, heavy ethanol use (""""""""binge-like drinking"""""""") are hypothesized to drive this progression, leading to the emergence of relapse-motivating negative affect upon cessation of intake. Ethanol intake thereby becomes compelled for its negative reinforcing properties -- to ward off or relieve affective withdrawal symptoms. Time course studies suggest that acute and late protracted abstinence are distinct stages of withdrawal that motivate drinking and whose neurobiological underpinnings remain unclear. Behavioral and neurochemical data implicate roles for dysregulated extrahypothalamic corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and neuropeptide Y (NPY) function in affective withdrawal symptoms. The overarching hypothesis of the present application is that chronic heavy ethanol use leads to increases in anxiogenic extrahypothalamic CRF! or Y2 signaling and decreases in anxiolytic Yi activity, each of which contributes to """"""""passive"""""""" anxiety behaviors during protracted ethanol abstinence.
SPECIFIC AIM 1 will determine whether a chronic history of self-administered binge drinking leads to increased anxiety-like behavior upon acute or protracted ethanol withdrawal.
SPECIFIC AIM 2 will determine whether rats rendered ethanol dependent via chronic passive ethanol vapor exposure or via chronic voluntary binge drinking show similar abnormalities in expression of CRF, NPY or their cognate receptors in components of the central extended amygdala or lateral septum, brain regions that subserve anxiety-like behavior and ethanol reinforcement. Using LC-MS, immunoassay, and quantitative and functional autoradiographic techniques, studies seek to identify which neurochemical changes coincide with the resurgence of anxiety-like behavior observed from early (2 weeks) to late (6-12 weeks) protracted withdrawal. Finally, SPECIFIC AIM 3 microinjects selective CRF and NPY receptor ligands into discrete brain regions to determine the functional relevance of neurochemical changes seen in AIM 2 for the increased anxiety of protracted withdrawal.

Public Health Relevance

By increasing understanding of the neurobiology of acute and protracted withdrawal, the studies may facilitate development of therapeutics that prevent and relieve affective withdrawal symptoms and thereby reduce the need to continue and resume drinking ethanol.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Comprehensive Center (P60)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1)
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Scripps Research Institute
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