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Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior

κ opioid regulation of anxiety-like behavior during acute ethanol withdrawal.


PMID 22487769

Abstract

Withdrawal is one of the defining characteristics of alcohol dependence, and is often characterized by impaired physiological function and enhanced negative affect. Recent evidence suggests that the dynorphin (DYN)/kappa opioid receptor (KOR) system may be a key mediator in the negative affect often associated with drugs of abuse. The objective of the present experiments was to determine the role of the DYN/KOR system in the regulation of anxiety-related behavior during acute withdrawal from ethanol. Rats were fed an ethanol liquid diet and following removal, the ability of the KOR antagonist nor-BNI to attenuate the increased anxiogenic-like response characteristic of ethanol withdrawal was investigated using the elevated plus maze. A comparison study was also conducted examining anxiety-related behavior following direct activation of KORs via injections of the KOR agonist U50,488. Rats experiencing ethanol withdrawal showed a significant decrease in open arm exploration compared to controls, an effect that was blocked by nor-BNI. Similar decreases in open arm exploration were observed following injections with the KOR agonist, U50,488, an effect also reversed by pretreatment with nor-BNI. These results suggest that similar mechanisms are involved in the regulation of ethanol withdrawal- and KOR agonist-induced changes in behavior. Given the potential role of enhanced negative affect in persistent ethanol drinking, understanding the role of the DYN/KOR system in regulating anxiety associated with withdrawal may be critical in understanding the factors associated with the nature of alcohol dependence.

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