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Papers: 29 Jun 2024 - 5 Jul 2024

2024 Jun 17



Adolescent Alcohol Exposure Promotes Mechanical Allodynia and Alters Synaptic Function at Inputs from the Basolateral Amgydala to the Prelimbic Cortex.


Obray JD, Wilkes ET, Scofield MD, Chandler LJ


Binge drinking is common among adolescents despite mounting evidence linking it to various adverse health outcomes that includes heightened pain perception. The prelimbic (PrL) cortex is vulnerable to insults from adolescent alcohol exposure and receives input from the basolateral amygdala (BLA) while sending projections to the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) – two brain regions implicated in nociception. In this study, adolescent intermittent ethanol (AIE) exposure was carried out in male and female rats using a vapor inhalation procedure. Mechanical and thermal sensitivity, assessed throughout adolescence and into adulthood, revealed that AIE exposure induced protracted mechanical allodynia in both male and female rats. However, a carrageenan inflammatory paw pain challenge in adult rats revealed that AIE did not further augment carrageenan-induced hyperalgesia. To investigate synaptic function at BLA inputs onto defined populations of PrL neurons, retrobeads and viral labelling were combined with optogenetics and slice electrophysiology. Recordings from retrobead labelled cells in the PrL revealed AIE reduced BLA driven feedforward inhibition of neurons projecting from the PrL to the vlPAG (PrL neurons), resulting in augmented excitation/inhibition (E/I) balance and increased intrinsic excitability. Consistent with this finding, recordings from virally tagged PrL parvalbumin interneurons (PVINs) demonstrated that AIE exposure reduced both E/I balance at BLA inputs onto PVINs and PVIN intrinsic excitability when assessed in adulthood. These findings provide compelling evidence that AIE and acute pain alter synaptic function and intrinsic excitability within a prefrontal nociceptive circuit.