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Ethanol-Induced Plasticity of GABAA Receptors in the Basolateral Amygdala

  • Lindemeyer, A Kerstin
  • Liang, Jing
  • Marty, Vincent N
  • Meyer, Edward M
  • Suryanarayanan, Asha
  • Olsen, Richard W
  • Spigelman, Igor
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2014
eScholarship - University of California
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Acute and chronic ethanol (EtOH) administration is known to affect function, surface expression, and subunit composition of γ-aminobutyric acid (A) receptors (GABAARs) in different parts of the brain, which is believed to play a major role in alcohol dependence and withdrawal symptoms. The basolateral amygdala (BLA) participates in anxiety-like behaviors including those induced by alcohol withdrawal. In the present study we assessed the changes in cell surface levels of select GABAAR subunits in the BLA of a rat model of alcohol dependence induced by chronic intermittent EtOH (CIE) treatment and long-term (>40 days) withdrawal and investigated the time-course of such changes after a single dose of EtOH (5 g/kg, gavage). We found an early decrease in surface expression of α4 and δ subunits at 1 h following single dose EtOH treatment. At 48 h post-EtOH and after CIE treatment there was an increase in α4 and γ2, while α1, α2, and δ surface expression were decreased. To relate functional changes in GABAARs to changes in their subunit composition we analyzed miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) and the picrotoxin-sensitive tonic current (Itonic) 48 h after EtOH intoxication. The Itonic magnitude and most of the mIPSC kinetic parameters (except faster mIPSC decay) were unchanged at 48 h post-EtOH. At the same time, Itonic potentiation by acute EtOH was greatly reduced, whereas mIPSCs became significantly more sensitive to potentiation by acute EtOH. These results suggest that EtOH intoxication-induced GABAAR plasticity in the BLA might contribute to the diminished sedative/hypnotic and maintained anxiolytic effectiveness of EtOH.

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