Melanocortins (MC) are central peptides that have been implicated in the modulation of ethanol consumption. There is experimental evidence that chronic ethanol exposure reduces α-MSH expression in limbic and hypothalamic brain regions and alters central pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA activity in adult rats. Adolescence is a critical developmental period of high vulnerability in which ethanol exposure alters corticotropin releasing factor, neuropeptide Y, substance P and neurokinin neuropeptide activities, all of which have key roles in ethanol consumption. Given the involvement of MC and the endogenous inverse agonist AgRP in ethanol drinking, here we evaluate whether a binge-like pattern of ethanol treatment during adolescence has a relevant impact on basal and/or ethanol-stimulated α-MSH and AgRP activities during adulthood. To this end, adolescent Sprague-Dawley rats (beginning at PND25) were pre-treated with either saline (SP group) or binge-like ethanol exposure (BEP group; 3.0g/kg given in intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections) of one injection per day over two consecutive days, followed by 2days without injections, repeated for a total of 8 injections. Following 25 ethanol-free days, we evaluated α-MSH and AgRP immunoreactivity (IR) in the limbic and hypothalamic nuclei of adult rats (PND63) in response to ethanol (1.5 or 3.0g/kgi.p.) and saline. We found that binge-like ethanol exposure during adolescence significantly reduced basal α-MSH IR in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA), the arcuate nucleus (Arc) and the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) during adulthood. Additionally, acute ethanol elicited AgRP IR in the Arc. Rats given the adolescent ethanol treatment required higher doses of ethanol than saline-treated rats to express AgRP. In light of previous evidence that endogenous MC and AgRP regulate ethanol intake through MC-receptor signaling, we speculate that the α-MSH and AgRP disturbances induced by binge-like ethanol exposure during adolescence may contribute to excessive ethanol consumption during adulthood.
"Central AgRP and HS014, MC4R antagonist administration increases voluntary ethanol consumption in mice and rats (Navarro et al., 2005; Lerma-Cabrera et al., 2012). In another way, binge-like ethanol exposure during adolescence significantly reduced basal α-MSH IR in the Arc and acute i.p. ethanol administration increased AgRP IR in the Arc (Cubero et al., 2010; Lerma-Cabrera et al., 2013). Taken together, available pharmacological, genetic and immunohistochemistry experimental evidence, and i.c.v administration of MTII increased c-fos IR in the Arc (Thiele et al., 1998), we speculate that present data showing altered c-fos IR in the Arc of adult animals previously exposed to a binge-like ethanol exposure pattern during adolescence might reflect long-term ethanol-promoted basal changes in Melanocortinergic activity in the Arc. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Binge alcohol drinking during adolescence has been associated with neurotoxicity and increased risk for the development of alcohol use disorders. There is evidence that acute and chronic ethanol administration alters c-fos expression, an indirect index of cellular activity, in different brain regions in adult rats. We evaluate here if a binge-like pattern of ethanol exposure during adolescence has a relevant impact on basal and/or ethanol-stimulated regional c-fos activity during adulthood. For that aim, Sprague-Dawley rats PND 25 were saline pre-treated, (SP group) or binge-ethanol pre-treated (BEP group) for twoconsecutive days, at 48-h intervals, over a 14-day period (PND 25 to PND 38). At adult stage (PND 63) and following 25 ethanol-free days, we evaluated c-fos immunoreactivity in response to saline or acute ethanol (1.5 or 3.0 g/kg) in the hypothalamus and amygdala. We found that acute ethanol administration dose-dependently increased c-fos activity in the the Paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN). Interestingly, binge-ethanol exposure during adolescence significantly reduced basal c-fos activity during adulthood in the Central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) and the Arcuate nucleus of hypothalamus (Arc). We conclude that binge-like ethanol administration during adolescence causes long-term disturbances in basal neural activity in brain areas critically involved with ethanol consumption.
International Journal of Morphology 06/2014; 32(2):575-582. DOI:10.4067/S0717-95022014000200033 · 0.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to determine changes in gene expression within the extended amygdala following binge-like alcohol drinking by male adolescent alcohol-preferring (P) rats. Starting at 28days of age, P rats were given concurrent access to 15 and 30% ethanol for 3 one-h sessions/day for 5 consecutive days/week for 3weeks. Rats were killed by decapitation 3h after the first ethanol access session on the 15th day of drinking. RNA was prepared from micropunch samples of the nucleus accumbens shell (Acb-sh) and central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA). Ethanol intakes were 2.5 - 3.0g/kg/session. There were 154 and 182 unique named genes that significantly differed (FDR=0.2) between the water and ethanol group in the Acb-sh and CeA, respectively. Gene Ontology (GO) analyses indicated that adolescent binge drinking produced changes in biological processes involved with cell proliferation and regulation of cellular structure in the Acb-sh, and in neuron projection and positive regulation of cellular organization in the CeA. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis indicated that, in the Acb-sh, there were several major intracellular signaling pathways (e.g., cAMP-mediated and protein kinase A signaling pathways) altered by adolescent drinking, with 3-fold more genes up-regulated than down-regulated in the alcohol group. The cAMP-mediated signaling system was also up-regulated in the CeA of the alcohol group. Weighted gene co-expression network analysis indicated significant G-protein coupled receptor signaling and transmembrane receptor protein kinase signaling categories in the Acb-sh and CeA, respectively. Overall, the results of this study indicated that binge-like alcohol drinking by adolescent P rats is differentially altering the expression of genes in the Acb-sh and CeA, some of which are involved in intracellular signaling pathways and may produce changes in neuronal function.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The melanocortin system has a well-established role in the regulation of energy homeostasis, but there is growing evidence of its involvement in memory, nociception, mood disorders and addiction. In this Review, we focus on the role of the melanocortin 4 receptor and provide an integrative view of the molecular mechanisms that lead to melanocortin-induced changes in synaptic plasticity within these diverse physiological systems. We also highlight the importance of melanocortin peptides and receptors in chronic pain syndromes, memory impairments, depression and drug abuse, and the possibility of targeting them for therapeutic purposes.
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