Targeting the oxytocin (OXT) peptide system has emerged as a promising new approach for the treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, further advancements in this development depend on properly modeling various complex social aspects of AUD and its treatment. Here we examined behavioral and molecular underpinnings of OXT receptor (OXTR) agonism in prairie voles, a rodent species with demonstrated translational validity for neurobiological mechanisms regulating social affiliations. To further improve translational validity of these studies, we examined effects of intranasal (IN) OXT administration in male and female prairie voles socially housed in the presence of untreated cagemates. IN OXT selectively inhibited alcohol drinking in male, but not female, animals. Further, we confirmed that exogenously administered OXT penetrates the prairie vole brain and showed that Receptor for Advanced Glycation End-products assists this penetration after IN, but not intraperitoneal (IP), OXT administration. Finally, we demonstrated that IP administration of LIT-001, a small-molecule OXTR agonist, inhibits alcohol intake in male, but not female, prairie voles socially housed in the presence of untreated cagemates. Taken together, results of this study support the promise of selectively targeting OXTR for individualized treatment of AUD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health