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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Oct;231(21):4199-209. doi: 10.1007/s00213-014-3562-x. Epub 2014 Apr 16.

Rasgrf2 controls noradrenergic involvement in the acute and subchronic effects of alcohol in the brain.

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MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK.



Alcohol addiction is a major psychiatric disease, and yet, the underlying molecular adaptations in the brain remain unclear. Recent evidence suggests a functional role for the ras-specific guanine-nucleotide releasing factor 2 (Rasgrf2) in alcoholism. Rasgrf2(-/-) mice consume less alcohol and show entirely absent dopamine responses to an alcohol challenge compared to wild types (WT).


In order to further investigate how Rasgrf2 modifies the acute and subchronic effects of alcohol in the brain, we investigated its effects on the noradrenergic and serotonergic systems.


We measured noradrenaline and serotonin activity in the brain by in vivo microdialysis and RNA expression by chip analysis and RT-PCR after acute and sub-chronic alcohol exposure in Rasgrf2(-/-) and WT mice.


In vivo microdialysis showed a significantly reduced noradrenergic response and an absent serotonergic response in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and caudate putamen (CPu) after an alcohol challenge in Rasgrf2(-/-) mice. A co-expression analysis showed that there is a high correlation between Rasgrf2 and α2 adrenoceptor RNA expression in the ventral striatum in naïve animals. Accordingly, we further assessed the role of Rasgrf2 in the response of the noradrenergic system to subchronic alcohol exposure. A decrease in β1 adrenoceptor gene expression was seen in Rasgrf2(+/+), but not Rasgrf2(-/-) mice following alcohol exposure. Conversely, alcohol resulted in a decrease in both β2 and α2 adrenoceptor gene expression in knockout but not WT Rasgrf2 mice.


These findings suggest that adaptations in the noradrenergic system contribute to the Rasgrf2 enhanced risk of alcoholism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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