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Role of the subunit composition of central nicotinic acetylcholine receptors for the stimulatory and dopamine-enhancing effects of ethanol.

Journal article
Authors Elisabeth Jerlhag
Morten Grøtli
Kristina Luthman
Lennart Svensson
Jörgen Engel
Published in Alcohol and Alcoholism
Volume 41
Issue 5
Pages 486-493
Publication year 2006
Published at Department of Chemistry
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Pages 486-493
Language en
Keywords ethanol, reward, ventral tegmental area, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, in vivo microdialysis, locomotor activity, mice
Subject categories Chemical Sciences, Physiology


AIMS: The stimulatory, rewarding, and dopamine (DA)-enhancing effects of ethanol may involve central nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR), especially those located in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Identifying the subunit composition that mediates these effects of ethanol would increase the understanding of the neurochemical basis underlying the addictive properties of ethanol. In the present series of experiments, the role of the alpha(3)beta(2)(*) and/or beta(3)(*) and/or alpha(6)(*) subunits of the nAChR for the stimulatory and DA-enhancing effects of ethanol was investigated by using alpha-conotoxin MII (alphaCtxMII), selective to the alpha(3)beta(2)(*) and/or beta(3)(*) and/or the alpha(6)(*) subunits of the nAChR, and the alpha-conotoxin PIA-analogue (alphaCtxPIA-analogue), suggested to be selective to the alpha(6)(*) subunits. METHODS: alphaCtxMII and the alphaCtxPIA-analogue were synthesized using a modified literature procedure. The purity and identity of the peptides were confirmed with HPLC and FAB-MS analyses, respectively. Locomotor activity and in vivo microdialysis in freely moving mice were used. RESULTS: alphaCtxMII and the alphaCtxPIA-analogue were synthesized in good yields (>95%; >90%). In addition, we found that synthesized alphaCtxMII antagonized ethanol-induced locomotor stimulation, which confirms our previous results with the commercially available alphaCtxMII. Furthermore, the synthesized alphaCtxPIA-analogue, assumably also selective for alpha(6)(*) subunits of the nAChR, did neither antagonize the stimulatory nor the accumbal DA-enhancing effects of ethanol. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that alphaCtxMII- but not alphaCtxPIA-analogue-sensitive receptors, i.e. the alpha(3)beta(2)(*) and/or beta(3)(*) rather than the alpha(6)(*) subunits of the nAChR, appear to be of greater importance for these effects of ethanol and that these subunits could constitute neurochemical targets for developing new drugs for the treatment of alcohol dependence.

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