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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2009 Jan;33(1):121-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00818.x. Epub 2008 Oct 18.

Ethanol attenuates the HFS-induced, ERK-mediated LTP in a dose-dependent manner in rat striatum.

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1
Department of Physiology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The striatum has been implicated to play a role in the control of voluntary behavior, and striatal synaptic plasticity is involved in instrumental learning. Ethanol is known to alter synaptic plasticity, in turn altering the behavior of human and animals. However, it remains unclear whether the striatum plays a role in the effects of ethanol on the central nervous system. The objective of this investigation was to study the effects of acute perfusion of ethanol on long-term potentiation (LTP) to elucidate the mechanisms of addictive drugs in the striatum. In addition, we investigated the contribution of intracellular extracellular signal regulated protein kinase (ERK) signaling pathway to corticostriatal LTP induction.

METHODS:

The stimulation evoked population spikes (PS) were recorded from the dorsomedial striatum (DMS) slices of rat using the extracellular recording technique. The LTP in DMS slices was induced by high-frequency stimulation (HFS). The ERK level of the DMS was assessed with the Western blot technique.

RESULTS:

U0126, the inhibitor of ERK, eliminated or significantly attenuated the LTP induced by HFS of the PS in the DMS. MK801 and APV, N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor (NMDAR) antagonists, inhibited the induction of striatal LTP, and HFS-induced ERK activation decreased in the slices treated with MK801 in the DMS. Clinically relevant concentrations of ethanol (22 to 88 mM) dose-dependently attenuated the HFS-induced striatal LTP and ERK activation in this brain region.

CONCLUSIONS:

The LTP of the PS in the DMS is, at least partly, mediated by the ERK pathway coupling to NMDARs. Ethanol attenuated the HFS-induced, ERK-mediated LTP in a dose-dependent manner in this brain region. These results indicate that ethanol may change the synaptic plasticity of corticostriatal circuits underlying the learning of goal-directed instrumental actions, which is mediated by an intracellular ERK signaling pathway associated with NMDARs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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