British journal of pharmacology

Central amygdala relaxin-3/relaxin family peptide receptor 3 signalling modulates alcohol seeking in rats.

PMID 28726252


Alcohol use disorders are a leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide, and stress is a major trigger of relapse. The neuropeptide relaxin-3 and its cognate receptor, relaxin family peptide receptor 3 (RXFP3), modulate stress-induced relapse to alcohol seeking in rats, and while the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis has been implicated in this regard, the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) also receives a relaxin-3 innervation and CeA neurons densely express RXFP3 mRNA. Moreover, the CeA is consistently implicated in both stress and addictive disorders. Yohimbine precipitates relapse-like behaviour in rodents, although exactly how yohimbine induces relapse is unknown, possibly by increasing stress levels and inducing heightened cue reactivity. In the current study, we examined the effects of yohimbine (1 mg·kg-1 , i.p.) on anxiety-like behaviour in alcohol-experienced rats. Furthermore, we assessed CeA neuronal activation following yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking and the role of the relaxin-3/RXFP3 signalling within the CeA in yohimbine-induced reinstatement to alcohol seeking. Low-dose yohimbine was anxiogenic in rats with a history of alcohol use. Furthermore, yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking increased Fos activation in CeA corticotrophin-releasing factor, dynorphin and GABA neurons compared with naïve and vehicle controls. Bilateral intra-CeA injections of the selective RXFP3 antagonist, R3(B1-22)R, attenuated yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking. Collectively, these data suggest that the CeA is a node where yohimbine acts to induce reinstatement of alcohol seeking and implicate the relaxin-3/RXFP3 system within the CeA in this process.