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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2004 Sep;28(9):1308-16.

Ethanol operant self-administration in rats is regulated by adenosine A2 receptors.

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Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, Emeryville, California 94608, USA.



Recent findings suggest that adenosine is involved in the neural and behavioral effects of ethanol (EtOH). Studies in neural cell culture show that EtOH, via activation of adenosine A2 receptors, triggers cyclic adenosine monophosphate/protein kinase A (cAMP/PKA) signaling and CRE (cAMP regulatory element)-mediated gene expression and that this effect is blocked by inhibiting G-protein betagamma subunits. Recently, we reported that expression of a betagamma inhibitor in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) reduces EtOH drinking in rats. The NAc expresses high levels of the adenosine A2A receptor in GABAergic medium spiny neurons. If the reinforcing effects of EtOH are mediated through an A2 activation of cAMP/PKA signaling via betagamma, then A2 receptor blockade should attenuate EtOH consumption. Here we tested this hypothesis. Because adenosine A2 and dopamine D2 receptors are coexpressed in neurons of the NAc, we compared the effects of A2 blockade with those of D2 receptor blockade.


Male Long-Evans rats were trained to self-administer 10% EtOH in daily 30-min sessions with an active and an inactive lever. Separate groups of rats were given the D2 antagonist eticlopride (0.005, 0.007, and 0.01 mg/kg), the A2 antagonist 3,7-dimethyl-1-propargylxanthine (DMPX; 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 20 mg/kg), and the A1 antagonist 8-cyclopentyl-1,3-dipropylxanthine (DPCPX; 0.125, 0.25, and 0.5 mg/kg) by systemic injection.


Eticlopride dose-dependently reduced EtOH drinking. DMPX showed a bimodal effect: 10 and 20 mg/kg decreased, but 1 mg/kg increased, EtOH consumption. DPCPX was without effect.


In support of our hypothesis, the A2 antagonist DMPX attenuated EtOH self-administration. Low doses of the A2 antagonist enhanced EtOH drinking, consistent with the possibility that rats increase EtOH self-administration to overcome partial A2 blockade. The D2 antagonist eticlopride also decreased EtOH self-administration. These data provide the first evidence that pharmacological modulation of adenosine A2 receptors can regulate EtOH consumption in rats.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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