Further evidence that the central nucleus of the amygdala is associated with the ethanol-induced locomotor response

Kristin Demarest, Barbara Hitzemann, Elham Mahjubi, James McCaughran, Robert Hitzemann

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28 Scopus citations


The effect of ethanol on the number of Fos-like immunoreactive (Fos-li) neurons was previously studied in the C57BL/6J (B6) and DBA/2J (D2) inbred mouse strains (Hitzemann and Hitzemann, Alcohol. Clin. Exp. Res. 21:1497- 1507, 1997). The data obtained suggested that the locomotor activation response to ethanol found in the D2 but not the B6 strain was associated with an increase in the number of Fos-li neurons (a putative measure of synaptic activity) in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA), but not in other brain regions, including the basal ganglia. The current study was performed to obtain data supporting a role for the CeA in the locomotor response. B6D2 F2 intercross animals were phenotyped for their locomotor response to ethanol (1.5 g/kg). The animals from the extreme phenotypes (>1 SD from the mean) were denoted as very high and very low activity (HH, LL) and differed in their ethanol response by >9,000 cm/15 min (baseline activity was similar in both phenotypes: 5,500 cm/15 min). These extremes especially differed from the parental strains in that the LL group showed a significant ethanol- induced inhibition of activity. After 2 weeks, HH and LL animals were rechallenged with 1.5 g/kg of ethanol or saline and the number of Fos-li neurons determined 1 hr later. In the HH group, ethanol increased the number of Fos-li neurons >600%, whereas in the LL group the increase was 170% [difference: p < 0.001). The increase in the HH group was principally located in the GABA neuron-rich lateral aspect of the CeA and not in the medial posterior-ventral division or the caps division. No significant difference was found between groups in the Fos response for the basolateral or lateral amygdala. Other brain regions were also examined, including the basal ganglia, the hippocampus (CA1, CA3, and dentate gyrus), the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, and several cortical regions. In some regions (e.g., the bed nucleus), a significant ethanol effect was detected, but it did not differentiate the HH and LL groups. Overall, the data obtained further argue that the CeA has an important role in regulating the acute locomotor response to ethanol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1531-1537
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • C-Fos
  • Central Nucleus
  • Ethanol
  • Locomotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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