Nucleus accumbens lentiviral-mediated gain of function of the oxytocin receptor regulates anxiety- and ethanol-related behaviors in adult mice

Amine Bahi, Shamma Al Mansouri, Elyazia Al Maamari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Anxiety is believed to influence ethanol use human in alcoholics. Studies using laboratory animals suggested an interaction between oxytocin and the behavioral effects of ethanol. Our previous study implicated a potential role for the oxytocin receptor (OxtR) in regulating ethanol-conditioned place preference. Here, we examined anxiety and the behavioral responses to ethanol in C57BL/6 mice stereotaxically injected in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) with lentiviral vectors expressing an empty vector (Mock) or the OxtR cDNA. For anxiety we used the elevated-plus maze, the open-field and the marble-burying tests and for ethanol we used the two-bottle choice paradigm, the wire-hanging and ethanol-induced loss-of-righting-reflex tests. We found that, compared to Mock, OxtR overexpression led to anxiolytic-like behavior without altering spontaneous locomotor activity. Most importantly, we found that, relative to Mock controls, increased expression of the OxtR in the NAcc led to decreased ethanol consumption and preference in the two-bottle choice protocol and increased resistance to ethanol-induced sedation. We also compared the consequence of OxtR modulation on the consumption and preference of saccharin and quinine and found that the two experimental groups did not differ for any tastant. These results provide further evidence that the oxytocin system contributes to the regulation of ethanol drinking and sensitivity and position OxtR as a central molecular mediator of ethanol's effects within the mesolimbic system. Taken together, the current findings suggest that OxtR manipulation may be a relevant strategy to address ethanol use disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Volume164
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2016

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Elevated-plus maze
  • LORR
  • Lentivirus
  • Marbles burying
  • Open-field
  • Oxytocin receptor
  • Two-bottle choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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