Ethanol Experience Enhances Glutamatergic Ventral Hippocampal Inputs to D1 Receptor-Expressing Medium Spiny Neurons in the Nucleus Accumbens Shell

The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Daniel M KircherRichard A Morrisett


A growing number of studies implicate alterations in glutamatergic signaling within the reward circuitry of the brain during alcohol abuse and dependence. A key integrator of glutamatergic signaling in the reward circuit is the nucleus accumbens, more specifically, the dopamine D1 receptor-expressing medium spiny neurons (D1-MSNs) within this region, which have been implicated in the formation of dependence to many drugs of abuse including alcohol. D1-MSNs receive glutamatergic input from several brain regions; however, it is not currently known how individual inputs onto D1-MSNs are altered by alcohol experience. Here, we investigate input-specific adaptations in glutamatergic transmission in response to varying levels of alcohol experience. Virally mediated expression of Channelrhodopsin in ventral hippocampal (vHipp) glutamate neurons of male mice allowed for selective activation of vHipp to D1-MSN synapses. Therefore, we were able to compare synaptic adaptations in response to low and high alcohol experience in vitro and in vivo Alcohol experience enhanced glutamatergic activity and abolished LTD at vHipp to D1-MSN synapses. Following chronic alcohol experience, GluA2-lacking AMPARs, which are Ca permeable, were inserted in...Continue Reading

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