Binge drinking is a dangerous pattern of behavior. We tested whether chronically manipulating nucleus accumbens (NAc) activity (via clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) and Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD)) could produce lasting effects on ethanol binge-like drinking in mice selectively bred to drink to intoxication. We found chronically increasing NAc activity (4 weeks, via CNO and the excitatory DREADD, hM3Dq) decreased binge-like drinking, but did not observe CNO-induced changes in drinking with the inhibitory DREADD, hM4Di. The CNO/hM3Dq-induced reduction in ethanol drinking persisted for at least one week, suggesting adaptive neuroplasticity via transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms. Therefore, we defined this plasticity at the morphological and transcriptomic levels. We found that chronic binge drinking (6 weeks) altered neuronal morphology in the NAc, an effect that was ameliorated with CNO/hM3Dq. Moreover, we detected significant changes in expression of several plasticity-related genes with binge drinking that were ameliorated with CNO treatment (e.g., Hdac4). Lastly, we found that LMK235, an HDAC4/5 inhibitor, reduced binge-like drinking. Thus, we were able to target specific molecular pathways using pharmacology to mimic the behavioral effects of DREADDs.
- Binge drinking
- DREADDs or chemogenetics
- High drinking in the dark mice
- Signaling pathways
ASJC Scopus subject areas