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Physiol Behav. 2017 Oct 1;179:411-421. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.07.021. Epub 2017 Jul 14.

Oxytocin reduces alcohol consumption in prairie voles.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA; Program in Neuroscience, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA; Program in Animal Behavior, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA. Electronic address: j.stevenson@bucknell.edu.
2
Department of Psychology, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA; Program in Neuroscience, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA; Program in Animal Behavior, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA.
3
Department of Psychology, William Patterson University, Wayne, NJ 07470, USA.
4
Department of Psychology, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA.

Abstract

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) negatively affects millions of people every year in the United States, and effective treatments for AUD are still needed. The neuropeptide oxytocin has shown promise for reducing alcohol drinking in mice and rats. Because oxytocin also plays a key role in complex prosocial behaviors like bonding and attachment, we tested the effect of oxytocin on alcohol drinking in prairie voles, a species that both consumes high amounts of alcohol and forms oxytocin dependent social bonds in a manner similar to humans. Oxytocin treatment (1.0, 3.0, and 10.0mg/kg, i.p.) reduced alcohol consumption in male and female prairie voles in animals that had access to 15% ethanol vs water every other day for 12 alcohol drinking sessions. In animals with continuous access to 15% alcohol and water, oxytocin (3.0mg/kg) reduced alcohol consumption only in the first hour of access after treatment, with no significant effects on consumption over the 24-hr period. In an open field locomotor test, oxytocin (1.0, 3.0, and 10.0mg/kg, i.p.) did not affect overall locomotor activity; however, ethanol (2g/kg, i.p.) increased locomotor activity in males and females, and produced anxiolytic effects (increased time in the center of an open field) in females only. Because prairie voles have been shown to match the alcohol consumption of their cage mate, we evaluated the relationship between cage mates' alcohol drinking. There was an overall pattern of social facilitation (consumption by one cage mate predicted consumption by the other cage mate); however, we found significant individual differences across cages in which many cages did not show significant matching, and, in some cases one cage mate's consumption negatively predicted the other cage mate's consumption. Overall, our data provide support for the potential of oxytocin as a treatment to reduce alcohol consumption.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol; Anxiolytic; Ethanol; Locomotor; Oxytocin; Prairie vole

PMID:
28716609
DOI:
10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.07.021
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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