Although dopaminergic transmission has been strongly implicated in alcohol self-administration, the involvement of specific dopamine receptor subtypes has not been well established. We studied the ethanol preference and sensitivity of D2-receptor-deficient mice to directly evaluate whether dopamine D2 receptors contribute to alcohol (ethanol) consumption. We report a marked aversion to ethanol in these mice, relative to the high preference and consumption exhibited by wild-type littermates. Sensitivity to ethanol-induced locomotor impairment was also reduced in these mutant mice, although they showed a normal locomotor depressant response to the dopamine D1 antagonist SCH-23390. These data demonstrate that dopamine signaling via D2 receptors is an essential component of the molecular pathway determining ethanol self-administration and sensitivity.
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