We previously showed that infusion of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) into the ventral tegmental area (VTA) rapidly reduces alcohol intake and relapse (Carnicella et al., 2008, 2009a), and increases dopamine (DA) levels in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of alcohol-naive rats (Wang et al., 2010). Withdrawal from excessive alcohol intake is associated with a reduction in NAc DA levels, whereas drug-induced increases in NAc DA levels are associated with reward. We therefore tested whether GDNF in the VTA reverses alcohol withdrawal-associated DA deficiency and/or possesses rewarding properties. Rats were trained for 7 weeks to consume high levels of alcohol (5.47 ± 0.37 g/kg/24 h) in intermittent access to 20% alcohol in a two-bottle choice procedure. Using in vivo microdialysis, we show that 24 h withdrawal from alcohol causes a substantial reduction in NAc DA overflow, which was reversed by intra-VTA GDNF infusion. Using conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm,weobserved thatGDNFon itsowndoes not induce CPP, suggesting that the growth factor is not rewarding. However, GDNF blocked acquisition and expression of alcohol-CPP. In addition, GDNF induced a downward shift in the dose-response curve for operant self-administration of alcohol, further suggesting that GDNF suppresses, rather than substitutes for, the reinforcing effects of alcohol. Our findings suggest that GDNF reduces alcohol-drinking behaviors by reversing an alcohol-induced allostatic DA deficiency in the mesolimbic system. In addition, as it lacks abuse liability, the study further highlights GDNF as a promising target for treatment of alcohol use/abuse disorders. © 2011 the authors.
Barak, S., Carnicella, S., Yowell, Q. V., & Ron, D. (2011). Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor reverses alcohol-induced allostasis of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system: Implications for alcohol reward and seeking. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(27), 9885–9894. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1750-11.2011