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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e50187. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050187. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

Genetic deficiency in neprilysin or its pharmacological inhibition initiate excessive stress-induced alcohol consumption in mice.

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  • 1Department for Biochemical Neurobiology, Leibnizinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie, Berlin, Germany.

Abstract

Both acquired and inherited genetic factors contribute to excessive alcohol consumption and the corresponding development of addiction. Here we show that the genetic deficiency in neprilysin [NEP] did not change the kinetics of alcohol degradation but led to an increase in alcohol intake in mice in a 2-bottle-free-choice paradigm after one single stress stimulus (intruder). A repetition of such stress led to an irreversible elevated alcohol consumption. This phenomenon could be also observed in wild-type mice receiving an orally active NEP inhibitor. We therefore elucidated the stress behavior in NEP-deficient mice. In an Elevated Plus Maze, NEP knockouts crossed more often the area between the arms, implicating a significant stronger stress response. Furthermore, such animals showed a decreased locomotor activity under intense light in a locomotor activity test, identifying such mice to be more responsive in aversive situations than their wild-type controls. Since the reduction in NEP activity itself does not lead to significant signs of an altered alcohol preference in mice but requires an environmental stimulus, our findings build a bridge between stress components and genetic factors in the development of alcoholism. Therefore, targeting NEP activity might be a very attractive approach for the treatment of alcohol abuse in a society with increasing social and financial stress.

PMID:
23185571
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3503995
Free PMC Article
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