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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 Apr;30(4):747-57.

Pharmacological and anatomical evidence for an interaction between mGluR5- and GABA(A) alpha1-containing receptors in the discriminative stimulus effects of ethanol.

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Department of Psychiatry, Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


The discriminative stimulus properties of ethanol are mediated in part by positive modulation of GABA(A) receptors. Recent evidence indicates that metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGluR5) activity can influence GABA(A) receptor function. Therefore, the purpose of this work was to examine the potential involvement of mGluR5 in the discriminative stimulus effects of ethanol. In rats trained to discriminate ethanol (1 g/kg, intragastric gavage (i.g.)) from water, 2-methyl-6-(phenylethyl)-pyridine (MPEP) (1-50 mg/kg, i.p.) a selective noncompetitive antagonist of the mGlu5 receptor did not produce ethanol-like stimulus properties. However, pretreatment with MPEP (30 mg/kg) reduced the stimulus properties of ethanol as indicated by significant reductions in ethanol-appropriate responding, specifically at 0.5 and 1 g/kg ethanol, and a failure of ethanol test doses (1 and 2 g/kg) to fully substitute for the ethanol training dose. To test whether mGluR5 antagonism altered the GABA(A) receptor component of the ethanol stimulus, the ability of MPEP to modulate pentobarbital and diazepam substitution for ethanol was assessed. Pentobarbital substitution (1-10 mg/kg, i.p.) for ethanol was not altered by MPEP pretreatment. However, MPEP pretreatment inhibited the ethanol-like stimulus properties of diazepam (5 mg/kg, i.p.). To examine a potential anatomical basis for these pharmacological findings, expression patterns of mGluR5- and benzodiazepine-sensitive GABA(A) alpha1-containing receptors were examined by dual-label fluorescent immunohistochemistry with visualization by confocal microscopy. Results indicated that mGluR5- and GABA(A) alpha1-containing receptors were both coexpressed in limbic brain regions and colocalized on the same cells in specific brain regions including the amygdala, hippocampus, globus pallidus, and ventral pallidum. Together, these findings suggest an interaction between mGluR5- and benzodiazepine-sensitive GABA(A) receptors in mediating ethanol discrimination.

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