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Front Integr Neurosci. 2013 Dec 25;7:96. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2013.00096. eCollection 2013.

Phorbol ester reduces ethanol excitation of dopaminergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area: involvement of protein kinase C theta.

Author information

  • 1Department of Neurosciences, Medical University of South Carolina Charleston, SC, USA.
  • 2School of Pharmacy, Griffith University Gold Coast Campus, QLD, Australia.
  • 3Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL, USA.

Abstract

Neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) play a key role in the rewarding and reinforcing effects of drugs of abuse, including alcohol. Ethanol directly increases the firing rate of dopaminergic (DAergic) VTA neurons, but modulation of the firing rate of DAergic VTA neurons can be controlled by a number of factors, including some that are under the control of protein kinase C (PKC). Application of phorbol esters activates PKC and the present study assessed the effect of a phorbol ester, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), on ethanol-induced excitation of DA VTA neurons. Ethanol-induced excitation of DAergic VTA neurons was reduced significantly in the presence of PMA. This action of PMA was antagonized by chelerythrine chloride, a non-selective antagonist of PKC, but not by moderate concentrations of antagonists of conventional PKC isoforms (Gö6976 and Gö6983). A PKC δ/θ inhibitor antagonized PMA-induced reduction of ethanol excitation. Since PKCδ antagonist Gö6983 did not antagonize the effect of PMA on ethanol excitation, the PMA reduction of ethanol excitation is most likely to be mediated by PKCθ. Antagonists of intracellular calcium pathways were ineffective in antagonizing PMA action on ethanol excitation, consistent with the lack of calcium dependence of PKCθ. In summary, ethanol-induced excitation of VTA neurons is attenuated in the presence of PMA, and this attenuation appears to be mediated by PKCθ. This novel mechanism for interfering with ethanol activation of reward-related neurons could provide a new target for pharmacotherapy to ameliorate alcoholism.

KEYWORDS:

PKC theta; alcohol; brain slices; dopamine; electrophysiology; ethanol; protein kinase C; reward

PMID:
24399942
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3872320
Free PMC Article

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