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A molecular mechanism for choosing alcohol over an alternative reward

Journal article
Authors E. Barbier
R. S. Dulman
Valentina Licheri
G. Augier
E. Domi
R. Barchiesi
S. Farris
D. Natt
R. D. Mayfield
Louise Adermark
M. Heilig
Published in Science
Volume 360
Issue 6395
Pages 1321-+
ISSN 0036-8075
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages 1321-+
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aao1157 ...
Keywords gene-expression, animal-models, drug-use, addiction, behavior, cocaine, anxiety, brain, rats, transporters, Science & Technology - Other Topics
Subject categories Psychiatry

Abstract

Alcohol addiction leads to increased choice of alcohol over healthy rewards. We established an exclusive choice procedure in which similar to 15% of outbred rats chose alcohol over a high-value reward. These animals displayed addiction-like traits, including high motivation to obtain alcohol and pursuit of this drug despite adverse consequences. Expression of the g-aminobutyric acid (GABA) transporter GAT-3 was selectively decreased within the amygdala of alcohol-choosing rats, whereas a knockdown of this transcript reversed choice preference of rats that originally chose a sweet solution over alcohol. GAT-3 expression was selectively decreased in the central amygdala of alcohol-dependent people compared to those who died of unrelated causes. Impaired GABA clearance within the amygdala contributes to alcohol addiction, appears to translate between species, and may offer targets for new pharmacotherapies for treating this disorder.

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