Background: Chronic ethanol (EtOH) exposure induces neurobehavioral maladaptations in the brain though the precise changes have not been fully explored. The central nucleus of the amygdala (CEA) regulates anxiety-like behavior induced by withdrawal from chronic intermittent EtOH (CIE) exposure, and the arginine vasopressin (AVP) system within the CEA regulates many anxiety-like behaviors. Thus, adaptations occur in the CEA AVP system due to chronic EtOH exposure, which lead to anxiety-like behaviors in rats. Methods: Chronic exposure to a low-dose EtOH (4.5% wt/vol) induces anxiety-like behavior in rats. Wistar or Sprague Dawley rats were exposed to a modified CIE or CIE, while intra-CEA microinjections of AVP or a V1b receptor antagonist were used to elicit or block withdrawal-induced anxiety. Additionally, AVP microinjections into the CEA were given 24 hours following 15 days of continuous high-dose EtOH (7% wt/vol), a time period when rats no longer express anxiety. Chemogenetics was also used to activate the basolateral amygdala (BLA) or deactivate the dorsal periaqueductal gray=(dm/dlPAG) therefore PAG=periaqueductal gray to elicit or block withdrawal-induced anxiety. Results: AVP microinjected into the CEA in lieu of exposure to the first 2 cycles of CIE was sufficient to induce anxiety-like behavior in these commonly used rat strains. The V1b receptor antagonist, but not an oxytocin receptor agonist, into the CEA during the first 2 withdrawal cycles suppressed anxiety. However, activation of the BLA in lieu of exposure to the first 2 cycles of CIE was insufficient to induce anxiety-like behavior. AVP microinjection into the CEA 24 hours into withdrawal reelicited anxiety-like behavior, and deactivation of the dm/dlPAG reduced this effect of CEA AVP. Conclusions: Taken together, this study demonstrates a role of CEA AVP and a CEA-dm/dlPAG circuit in the development of anxiety induced by CIE. Such information is valuable for identifying novel therapeutic targets for alcohol- and anxiety-associated disorders.
- Alcohol Withdrawal–Induced Anxiety
- Basolateral Amygdala
- Central Nucleus of the Amygdala
- Dorsal Periaqueductal Gray
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Psychiatry and Mental health