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Voluntary Ethanol Intake Produces Subregion-Specific Neuroadaptations in Striatal and Cortical Areas of Wistar Rats

Journal article
Authors Oona Lagström
Klara Danielsson
Bo Söderpalm
Mia Ericson
Louise Adermark
Published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 43
Issue 5
Pages 803-811
ISSN 0145-6008
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages 803-811
Language en
Keywords Alcohol, Electrophysiology, Nucleus Accumbens, Orbitofrontal Cortex, Striatum
Subject categories Neurosciences


Background: Addiction has been conceptualized as a shift from controlled recreational use toward compulsive and habitual drug-taking behavior. Although the brain reward system is vital for alcohol reward and reinforcement, other neuronal circuits may be involved in controlling long-term alcohol-seeking and drug-taking behaviors. The aim of this study was to outline alcohol-induced neuroplasticity in defined cortical and striatal subregions, previously implicated in alcohol use disorder. Methods: Male Wistar rats were allowed to voluntarily consume ethanol (EtOH) in an intermittent manner for 2 months, after which ex vivo electrophysiological recordings were performed and data compared with isolated water controls housed in parallel. Results: Field potential recordings revealed an increase in field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) in the dorsomedial striatum (DMS) of rats consuming EtOH, while a depression of evoked potentials was detected in the dorsolateral striatum (DLS). Mean activity in cortical (medial prefrontal cortex, lateral orbitofrontal cortex [OFC]), and accumbal regions (nucleus accumbens [nAc] core/shell) was not significantly altered as compared to water-drinking controls, but a correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed and evoked potentials could be found in both dorsal striatal subregions, OFC, and nAc core. Removal of EtOH for 1 to 2 days was sufficient to restore neurotransmission in the DLS, while the increase in fEPSP amplitude sustained in the DMS. Conclusions: These preclinical findings are in line with clinical observations indicating that alcohol produces neurophysiological transformations in dorsal striatal circuits, which in turn may lead to disruptions in decision-making processes that could further promote alcohol misuse. © 2019 by the Research Society on Alcoholism

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