This K99/R00 proposal presents a comprehensive training and research plan that will facilitate the career development of the Candidate (Justin Gass, PhD). During the mentored K99 phase of the award, Dr. Gass will receive training in cutting-edge laboratory techniques in neurophysiology and cellular biology that will expand and augment his existing expertise in the behavioral analysis of alcohol addiction. The research plan proposed for the independent R00 phase is based upon the Candidate's recent studies into the influence of alcohol- associated cues in relapse, and the proposed research will utilize the training obtained under the mentored phase. The techniques to be learned under the direction of the Mentor (Dr. Judson Chandler) will allow Dr. Gass to expand his behavioral studies into an investigation of the circuitry and neuronal networks that underly these behaviors. Most neuroscientists now consider the phenomenon of extinction to be """"""""new"""""""" and """"""""active"""""""" learning, and no longer view it as the simple """"""""forgetting"""""""" of previously learned associations. Recent advances in the field of addiction research allow for the detailed analysis of changes in neuronal plasticity that are associated with learning. Therefore, the neural mechanisms that underlie the extinction of drug-seeking behavior can be investigated at the cellular level. Preliminary evidence indicates that allosteric modulation of type 5 metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR5) can facilitate extinction of alcohol-seeking behavior. Thus, the overall hypothesis of the research under this proposal is that extinction of alcohol-seeking behavior can be enhanced through modulation of mGluR5 receptors, and that this enhancement is associated with changes in plasticity within specific brain regions that regulate extinction behavior. This study will test the hypotheses that: 1) The extinction of alcohol-seeking behavior can be facilitated through positive allosteric modulation of the mGluR5 receptor;2) The enhancement of extinction of alcohol-seeking is mediated through complex neuronal activity involving the infralimbic cortex (IL-PFC) to nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell pathway;3) The enhancement of extinction of alcohol-seeking behavior is associated with changes in the morphology of dendritic spines within the IL-PFC and NAc shell;and 4) The positive allosteric modulation of mGluR5 during extinction training will attenuate the magnitude of cue-induced alcohol-seeking behavior. Additionally, the results from these studies will aid in the establishment of Dr. Gass's independent research program that will investigate how the neural mechanisms involved in the extinction of alcohol-seeking behavior can be used to develop pharmacological interventions that promote abstinence and reduce alcohol relapse.

Public Health Relevance

Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disorder that is associated with compulsive alcohol-seeking behavior. One of the main causes of alcohol relapse is the craving caused by environmental cues that are associated with alcohol. These cues are formed by normal learning and memory principles and the understanding of the brain mechanisms that help form these associations can lead to the development of drugs and/or behavior therapies that reduce the impact that these cues have on alcoholics.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Transition Award (R00)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
No Study Section (in-house review) (NSS)
Program Officer
Cui, Changhai
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Medical University of South Carolina
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Macht, Victoria A; Kelly, Sandra J; Gass, Justin T (2017) Sex-specific effects of developmental alcohol exposure on cocaine-induced place preference in adulthood. Behav Brain Res 332:259-268
Cannady, Reginald; McGonigal, Justin T; Newsom, Ryan J et al. (2017) Prefrontal Cortex KCa2 Channels Regulate mGlu5-Dependent Plasticity and Extinction of Alcohol-Seeking Behavior. J Neurosci 37:4359-4369
Gass, J T; McGonigal, J T; Chandler, L J (2017) Deficits in the extinction of ethanol-seeking behavior following chronic intermittent ethanol exposure are attenuated with positive allosteric modulation of mGlu5. Neuropharmacology 113:198-205
Sun, Lichao; Burnett, Joseph; Gasparyan, Mari et al. (2016) Novel cancer stem cell targets during epithelial to mesenchymal transition in PTEN-deficient trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer. Oncotarget 7:51408-51422
Sun, Lichao; Burnett, Joseph; Guo, Chunguang et al. (2016) CPA4 is a promising diagnostic serum biomarker for pancreatic cancer. Am J Cancer Res 6:91-6
Sun, Lichao; Pan, Jian; Yu, Long et al. (2016) Tumor endothelial cells promote metastasis and cancer stem cell-like phenotype through elevated Epiregulin in esophageal cancer. Am J Cancer Res 6:2277-2288
McGuier, Natalie S; Griffin 3rd, William C; Gass, Justin T et al. (2016) Kv7 channels in the nucleus accumbens are altered by chronic drinking and are targets for reducing alcohol consumption. Addict Biol 21:1097-1112
Sun, Lichao; Guo, Chunguang; Burnett, Joseph et al. (2016) Serum carboxypeptidaseA4 levels predict liver metastasis in colorectal carcinoma. Oncotarget 7:78688-78697
Uys, Joachim D; McGuier, Natalie S; Gass, Justin T et al. (2016) Chronic intermittent ethanol exposure and withdrawal leads to adaptations in nucleus accumbens core postsynaptic density proteome and dendritic spines. Addict Biol 21:560-74
Sun, Lichao; Wang, Yipeng; Yuan, Hebao et al. (2016) CPA4 is a Novel Diagnostic and Prognostic Marker for Human Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer. J Cancer 7:1197-204

Showing the most recent 10 out of 17 publications