The second report by NIAAA-supported scientists led by Basalingappa L. Hungund, Ph.D., of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg, New York, complements the findings of the Kunos research team. Dr. Hungund and colleagues found that, in addition to showing a dramatic reduction in alcohol intake, alcohol-preferring mice that lack CB1 receptors release no dopamine from the nucleus accumbens after they drink alcohol. In mice with intact CB1 receptors, the researchers were able to abolish alcohol-induced release of dopamine from the nucleus accumbens by treating the animals with a drug that blocks CB1 receptors.
"Our results," says coauthor Balapal Basavarajappa, Ph.D., "clearly suggest that the CB1 receptor system is involved in ethanol-induced dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens and indicate that activation of the limbic dopamine system is required for the reinforcing effects of alcohol. They further suggest an interaction between the cannabinoidergic and dopaminergic systems in the reinforcing properties of drugs of abuse, including alcohol."
"Taken together," adds Dr. Kunos, "these findings provide unequivocal evidence for the role of endocannabinoids and CB1 in alcohol drinking behavior in rodents, and suggest that the CB1 receptor may be a promising pharmacotherapy target."
Contact: Ann Bradley
NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism