Converging lines of evidence point to the involvement of neurons of the centrally projecting Edinger-Westphal nucleus (EWcp) containing the neuropeptide Urocortin-1 (Ucn1) in excessive ethanol (EtOH) intake and EtOH sensitivity. Here, we expanded these previous findings by using a continuous-access, two-bottle choice drinking paradigm (3%, 6%, and 10% EtOH vs. tap water) to compare EtOH intake and EtOH preference in Ucn1 genetic knockout (KO) and wild-type (WT) mice. Based on previous studies demonstrating that electrolytic lesion of the EWcp attenuated EtOH intake and preference in high-drinking C57BL/6J mice, we also set out to determine whether EWcp lesion would differentially alter EtOH consumption in Ucn1 KO and WT mice. Finally, we implemented well-established place conditioning procedures in KO and WT mice to determine whether Ucn1 and the corticotropin-releasing factor type-2 receptor (CRF-R2) were involved in the rewarding and aversive effects of EtOH (2 g/kg, i.p.). Results from these studies revealed that (1) genetic deletion of Ucn1 dampened EtOH preference only in mice with an intact EWcp, but not in mice that received lesion of the EWcp, (2) lesion of the EWcp dampened EtOH intake in Ucn1 KO and WT mice, but dampened EtOH preference only in WT mice expressing Ucn1, and (3) genetic deletion of Ucn1 or CRF-R2 abolished the conditioned rewarding effects of EtOH, but deletion of Ucn1 had no effect on the conditioned aversive effects of EtOH. The current findings provide strong support for the hypothesis that EWcp-Ucn1 neurons play an important role in EtOH intake, preference, and reward.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)