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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Jan;231(1):293-303. doi: 10.1007/s00213-013-3238-y. Epub 2013 Aug 17.

Effect of β3 adrenoceptor activation in the basolateral amygdala on ethanol seeking behaviors.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC, 27157, USA.



The interaction between ethanol (EtOH) and anxiety plays an integral role in the development and maintenance of alcoholism. Many medications in pre-clinical or clinical trials for the treatment of alcoholism share anxiolytic properties. However, these drugs typically have untoward side effects, such as sedation or impairment of motor function that may limit their clinical use. We have recently demonstrated that BRL 37344 (BRL), a selective β3-adrenoceptor (AR) agonist, enhances a discrete population of GABAergic synapses in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) that mediates feed-forward inhibition from lateral paracapsular (LPC) GABAergic interneurons onto BLA pyramidal cells. Behavioral studies revealed that intra-BLA infusion of BRL significantly reduced measures of unconditioned anxiety-like behavior without locomotor depressant effects.


The present studies tested the effect of BRL (0.1, 0.5, or 1.0 μg/side) on EtOH self-administration using an intermittent access home cage two-bottle choice procedure and limited access operant responding for EtOH or sucrose.


Intra-BLA infusion of BRL did not reduce home cage, intermittent EtOH self-administration. However, using an operant procedure that permits the discrete assessment of appetitive (seeking) and consummatory measures of EtOH self-administration, BRL reduced measures of EtOH and sucrose seeking, but selectively reduced operant responding for EtOH during extinction probe trials. BRL had no effect on consummatory behaviors for EtOH or sucrose.


Together, these data suggest that intra-BLA infusion of BRL significantly reduces motivation to seek EtOH and provide initial evidence that β3-ARs and LPC GABAergic synapses may represent promising targets for the development of novel pharmacotherapies for the treatment of alcoholism.

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