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Cellular prion protein (PrPC) modulates ethanol-induced behavioral adaptive changes in mice

Behavioural Brain Research
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2014.05.067
  • Cellular Prion Protein (Prpc)
  • Ethanol
  • Dopamine
  • Behavior
  • Consumption
  • Rapid Tolerance
  • Biology
  • Pharmacology


Abstract Chronic consumption of drugs with addictive potential induces profound synaptic changes in the dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic pathway that underlie the long-term behavioral alterations seen in addicted subjects. Thus, exploring modulation systems of dopaminergic function may reveal novel targets to interfere with drug addiction. We recently showed that cellular prion protein (PrPC) affects the homeostasis of the dopaminergic system by interfering with dopamine synthesis, content, receptor density and signaling pathways in different brain areas. Here we report that the genetic deletion of PrPC modulates ethanol (EtOH)-induced behavioral alterations including the maintenance of drug seeking, voluntary consumption and the development of EtOH tolerance, all pivotal steps in drug addiction. Notably, these behavioral changes were accompanied by a significant depletion of dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex and reduced dopamine D1 receptors in PrPC knockout mice. Furthermore, the pharmacological blockade of dopamine D1 receptors, but not D2 receptors, attenuated the abnormal EtOH consumption in PrPC knockout mice. Altogether, these findings provide new evidence that the PrPC/dopamine interaction plays a pivotal role in EtOH addictive properties in mice.

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