Previous studies using genetic and lesion approaches have shown that the neuropeptide urocortin 1 (Ucn1) is involved in regulating alcohol consumption. Ucn1 is a corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) -like peptide that binds CRF1 and CRF2 receptors. Perioculomotor urocortin-containing neurons (pIIIu), also known as the non-preganglionic Edinger-Westphal nucleus, are the major source of Ucn1 in the brain and are known to innervate the lateral septum. Thus, the present study tested whether Ucn1 could regulate alcohol consumption through the lateral septum. In a series of experiments Ucn1 or CRF was bilaterally injected at various doses into the lateral septum of male C57BL/6J mice. Consumption of 20% volume/volume ethanol or water was tested immediately after the injections using a modification of a 2-h limited access sweetener-free "drinking-in-the-dark" procedure. Ucn1 significantly suppressed ethanol consumption when administered prior to the third ethanol drinking session (the expression phase of ethanol drinking) at doses as low as 6 pmol. Ethanol intake was differentially sensitive to Ucn1, as equivalent doses of this peptide did not suppress water consumption. In contrast, CRF suppressed both ethanol and water intake at 40 and 60 pmol, but not at lower doses. Repeated administration of Ucn1 during the acquisition of alcohol consumption showed that 40 pmol (but not 2 or 0.1 pmol) significantly attenuated ethanol intake. Repeated administration of Ucn1 also resulted in a decrease of ethanol intake in sham-injected animals, a finding suggesting that the suppressive effect of Ucn1 on ethanol intake can be conditioned. Taken together, these studies confirm the importance of lateral septum innervation by Ucn1 in the regulation of alcohol consumption.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|State||Published - Feb 6 2008|
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