The Central Amygdala (CeA) has been heavily implicated in many aspects of alcohol use disorder. Ethanol (EtOH) has been shown to modulate glutamatergic transmission in the lateral subdivision of the CeA, however, the exact mechanism of this modulation is still unclear. EtOH exposure is associated with increased pro-inflammatory cytokines in the CeA, and inhibition of neuroimmune cells (microglia and astrocytes) has previously been shown to reduce EtOH drinking in animal models. Since neuroimmune activation seems to be involved in many of the effects of EtOH, we hypothesized that acute EtOH exposure will increase excitatory glutamatergic transmission in the CeA via modulation of neuroimmune cells. Using ex vivo brain slice whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology, it was found that a physiologically relevant concentration of EtOH (20 mM) significantly increased presynaptic glutamatergic transmission in the CeA. Pharmacologic and chemogenetic inhibition of astrocyte function significantly reduced the ability of EtOH to modulate CeA glutamatergic transmission with minimal impact of microglia inhibition. This finding prompted additional studies examining whether direct neuroimmune activation through lipopolysaccharide (LPS) might lead to an increase in the glutamatergic transmission in the CeA. It was found that LPS modulation of glutamatergic transmission was limited by microglia activation and required astrocyte signaling. Taken together these results support the hypothesis that acute EtOH enhances lateral CeA glutamatergic transmission through an astrocyte mediated mechanism.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience