Aldosterone regulates electrolyte and fluid homeostasis through binding to the mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs). Previous work provides evidence for a role of aldosterone in alcohol use disorders (AUDs). We tested the hypothesis that high functional activity of the mineralocorticoid endocrine pathway contributes to vulnerability for AUDs. In Study 1, we investigated the relationship between plasma aldosterone levels, ethanol self-administration and the expression of CYP11B2 and MR (NR3C2) genes in the prefrontal cortex area (PFC) and central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) in monkeys. Aldosterone significantly increased after 6- and 12-month ethanol self-administration. NR3C2 expression in the CeA was negatively correlated to average ethanol intake during the 12 months. In Study 2, we measured Nr3c2 mRNA levels in the PFC and CeA of dependent and nondependent rats and the correlates with ethanol drinking during acute withdrawal. Low Nr3c2 expression levels in the CeA were significantly associated with increased anxiety-like behavior and compulsive-like drinking in dependent rats. In Study 3, the relationship between plasma aldosterone levels, alcohol drinking and craving was investigated in alcohol-dependent patients. Non-abstinent patients had significantly higher aldosterone levels than abstinent patients. Aldosterone levels positively correlated with the number of drinks consumed, craving and anxiety scores. These findings support a relationship between ethanol drinking and the aldosterone/MR pathway in three different species.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Psychiatry and Mental health