Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

D-Serine and D-Cycloserine Reduce Compulsive Alcohol Intake in Rats.

PMID 25801502


There is considerable interest in NMDAR modulators to enhance memory and treat neuropsychiatric disorders such as addiction, depression, and schizophrenia. D-serine and D-cycloserine, the NMDAR activators at the glycine site, are of particular interest because they have been used in humans without serious adverse effects. Interestingly, D-serine also inhibits some NMDARs active at hyperpolarized potentials (HA-NMDARs), and we previously found that HA-NMDARs within the nucleus accumbens core (NAcore) are critical for promoting compulsion-like alcohol drinking, where rats consume alcohol despite pairing with an aversive stimulus such as quinine, a paradigm considered to model compulsive aspects of human alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Here, we examined the impact of D-serine and D-cycloserine on this aversion-resistant alcohol intake (that persists despite adulteration with quinine) and consumption of quinine-free alcohol. Systemic D-serine reduced aversion-resistant alcohol drinking, without altering consumption of quinine-free alcohol or saccharin with or without quinine. Importantly, D-serine within the NAcore but not the dorsolateral striatum also selectively reduced aversion-resistant alcohol drinking. In addition, D-serine inhibited EPSCs evoked at -70 mV in vitro by optogenetic stimulation of mPFC-NAcore terminals in alcohol-drinking rats, similar to reported effects of the NMDAR blocker AP5. Further, D-serine preexposure occluded AP5 inhibition of mPFC-evoked EPSCs, suggesting that D-serine reduced EPSCs by inhibiting HA-NMDARs. Systemic D-cycloserine also selectively reduced intake of quinine-adulterated alcohol, and D-cycloserine inhibited NAcore HA-NMDARs in vitro. Our results indicate that HA-NMDAR modulators can reduce aversion-resistant alcohol drinking, and support testing of D-serine and D-cycloserine as immediately accessible, FDA-approved drugs to treat AUDs.