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Nature. 1998 Nov 26;396(6709):366-9.

Ethanol consumption and resistance are inversely related to neuropeptide Y levels.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA. thiele@u.washington.edu


Genetic linkage analysis of rats that were selectively bred for alcohol preference identified a chromosomal region that includes the neuropeptide Y (NPY) gene. Alcohol-preferring rats have lower levels of NPY in several brain regions compared with alcohol-non-preferring rats. We therefore studied alcohol consumption by mice that completely lack NPY as a result of targeted gene disruption. Here we report that NPY-deficient mice show increased consumption, compared with wild-type mice, of solutions containing 6%, 10% and 20% (v/v) ethanol. NPY-deficient mice are also less sensitive to the sedative/hypnotic effects of ethanol, as shown by more rapid recovery from ethanol-induced sleep, even though plasma ethanol concentrations do not differ significantly from those of controls. In contrast, transgenic mice that overexpress a marked NPY gene in neurons that usually express it have a lower preference for ethanol and are more sensitive to the sedative/hypnotic effects of this drug than controls. These data are direct evidence that alcohol consumption and resistance are inversely related to NPY levels in the brain.

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