Dopamine responses in the ventral straitum contribute to ethanol preference and consumption and, mu opioid receptors do not mediate ethanol stimulated dopamine release
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The goal of this dissertation was two fold: 1) To relate dopamine responses in the ventral striatum to ethanol preference and consumption, and 2) to investigate the role of the mu opioid receptors in this ethanol induced dopamine release in the ventral striatum. First a two bottle choice experiment established that a substrain of C57BL/6 mice (C57BL/6NCrl) had significantly less preference for and consumption of ethanol than a second substrain of mouse based on the same background (C57BL6/J). The C57BL/6 strain has been extensively used in alcohol drinking studies and is well known for it’s propensity to consume alcohol over water. To determine if differences in ventral striatal dopamine response vii could contribute to this variability in drinking behavior, we characterized the dopamine response in both substrains of mice after intraperitoneal injections of 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0 g/kg ethanol or saline. We found that the acute intraperitoneal ethanol injections in naïve mice caused a significant elevation in dopamine in both substrains at all three doses with a significant difference between substrains at the two highest alcohol doses. Therefore, ethanol induced dopamine release in the ventral striatum may contribute to ethanol preference and consumption. Next, we investigated the effect of acute intraperitoneal ethanol injections on naïve mu opioid receptor knockout mice and in mice pretreated with a mu opioid receptor antagonist. The mice used were all established on the C57BL/6J background. We found that ventral striatal dopamine response was similar in these mice after 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 g/kg intraperitoneal ethanol injections compared to appropriate controls. As both gene deletion and pharmacological blockade of the mu opioid receptor did not affect ethanol stimulated dopamine release, it points to the conclusion that this receptor may not play a significant role in ethanol induced ventral striatal dopamine release.