Chronic ethanol consumption reduces delta-and mu-opioid receptor-stimulated G-protein coupling in rat brain.
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Ethanol consumption is thought to enhance the release of endogenous opioids acting at opioid receptors (ORs) in the central nervous system. Prior studies have shown that chronic ethanol consumption in alcohol-preferring rats uncouples mu-ORs from Gi proteins. The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential for uncoupling of the delta- and the mu-OR after chronic ethanol consumption in a nonpreferring rat strain.We used radiohistochemical methods to study mu- and delta-OR-stimulated G-protein coupling in brain tissue of rats ingesting liquid diets containing 6.7% ethanol (v/v) for 16 days, as compared with 0% ethanol pair-fed control rats. Sections of brain from pair-fed and ethanol-treated rats were incubated with guanylyl 5'-[gamma-[35S]-thio]-triphosphate ([35S]-GTPgammaS) in the absence and presence of d-Pen2,d-Pen5 enkephalin (DPDPE), a delta-OR agonist, or Tyr-d-Ala-Gly-N(me)Phe-Gly-ol-enkephalin (DAMGO), a mu-OR agonist.DPDPE significantly stimulated [35S]-GTPgammaS binding in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG), CA1, cerebellum, and inferior colliculus of untreated pair-fed controls. By contrast, DPDPE-stimulated [35S]-GTPgammaS binding was reduced significantly in those brain regions in the ethanol-consuming group. DAMGO stimulated [35S]-GTPgammaS binding in cortex, caudate, nucleus accumbens, DG, CA1, and superior and inferior colliculi, whereas the DG, CA1, and colliculi showed a significant reduction of binding after chronic ethanol. Basal [35S]-GTPgammaS binding was not different between the two diet groups. CONCLUSIONS These data are the first to demonstrate functional uncoupling of delta-ORs from G proteins after chronic ethanol consumption. Uncoupling may result from modulation of receptors, possibly by internalization or phosphorylation. Alterations in functional coupling of both delta- and mu-ORs and subsequent effects may contribute to continued ethanol consumption.