Title: Molecular and Cellular Pathogenesis in Alcoholism
PI: Fulton T. Crews, Ph.D.
Co-PI: George Breese, Ph.D.
Darin Knapp, Ph.D.
Research Component 1. This ARC proposal tests the hypothesis that repeated ethanol binges (REB) persistently change neuroimmune signaling that alters neuronal activation in frontal cortical (FC), amygdala (Amyg), ventral striatum (VS, nucleus accumbens) and hippocampus (Hip) that contributes to the psychopathology of alcohol dependence. Progress in the previous funding cycle discovered that neuroimmune signals are activated by REB altering behavior consistent with addiction. Breese progress
linked ethanol cycles, stressors and/or brain injection of neuroimmune agonists into Amyg with decreased social interaction, an index of negative affect. In parallel, Crews discovered REB induces neuroimmune genes through glial NFκB transcription of chemokines, cytokines, toll-like receptors (TLR) and the TLR agonist HMGB1 that persist for long periods of abstinence and contribute to neurodegeneration and reversal learning cognitive deficits. Increased neuroimmune protein expression was also discovered in post-mortem human alcoholic brain. These labs partner within this renewal component. REB induced changes in neuronal activation using cfos and Zif268 markers (Aim 1) will be related to increases in neuroimmune signals (Aim 2) within FC, Amyg, VS and Hip during abstinenece following REB. These brain regions are networked and associated with the persistent alcohol induced arousal that occurs in alcohol dependence. Optogenetics will investigate changes in FC circuits. Naltrexone, minocycline and knock out mice will test causal relationships between neuroimmune induction and altered neuronal activation (Aim 3) as well as addiction related behaviors (Aim 4). These experiments will enhance understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of alcohol induced brain pathology. Ethanol induced neuroimmune activation could become central to the neurobiology of addiction and translate to new treatments. The ARC broadens and
strengthens the proposed experiments with additional related studies on binge induced alterations in neurocircuits, addiction-like behaviors and signaling mechanisms.