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Papers of the Week

Papers: 11 Nov 2023 - 17 Nov 2023

2023 Nov 14



Adolescent ethanol exposure promotes mechanical allodynia and alters dopamine transmission in the nucleus accumbens shell.


Kelley AM, Del Valle EJ, Zaman S, Karkhanis AN


Excessive alcohol consumption in adolescence can disrupt neural development and may augment pain perception. Recent studies have shown that the nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell is involved in mediating pain sensitivity after peripheral inflammation in rodent models of chronic pain and alcohol use disorder. Interestingly, there have been very few studies examining the impact of chronic ethanol exposure during adolescence on pain sensitivity in adulthood. Therefore, in this project, we investigated the impact of adolescent chronic intermittent ethanol (aCIE) exposure on mechanical allodynia. Furthermore, given the involvement of the NAc shell in pain processing and chronic ethanol-mediated changes, we measured changes in accumbal dopamine kinetics during protracted withdrawal. We found that both male and female aCIE rats show mechanical allodynia during withdrawal. Furthermore, male and female aCIE rats show greater evoked tonic dopamine release, maximal rate of dopamine reuptake, and dopamine affinity to the dopamine transporter in the NAc shell compared with controls. With phasic stimulation, aCIE rats also showed greater dopamine release compared with AIR-exposed rats. Inhibition of dopamine transmission targeted in the NAc shell reversed the aCIE-associated facilitation of mechanical allodynia in both sexes. These data suggest that aCIE exposure exacerbates pain sensitivity during withdrawal in an accumbal dopamine-dependent manner.