Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a rapidly growing concern in the United States. Current trending escalations of alcohol use are associated with a concurrent rise in alcohol-related end-organ damage, increasing risk for further diseases. Alcohol-related end-organ damage can be driven by autonomic nervous system dysfunction, however studies on alcohol effects on autonomic control of end-organ function are lacking. Alcohol intake has been shown to reduce insulin secretions from the pancreas. Pancreatic insulin release is controlled in part by preganglionic parasympathetic motor neurons residing in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) that project to the pancreas. How these neurons are affected by alcohol exposure has not been directly examined. Here we investigated the effects of acute ethanol (EtOH) application on DMV pancreatic-projecting neurons with whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology. We found that bath application of EtOH (50 mM) for greater than 30 min significantly enhanced the frequency of spontaneous inhibitory post synaptic current (sIPSC) events of DMV pancreatic-projecting neurons suggesting a presynaptic mechanism of EtOH to increase GABAergic transmission. Thirty-minute EtOH application also decreased action potential firing of these neurons. Pretreatment of DMV slices with 20 μM fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, also increased GABAergic transmission and decreased action potential firing of these DMV neurons while occluding any further effects of EtOH application, suggesting a critical role for serotonin in mediating EtOH effects in the DMV. Ultimately, decreased DMV motor output may lead to alterations in pancreatic secretions. Further studies are needed to fully understand EtOH's influence on DMV neurons as well as the consequences of changes in parasympathetic output to the pancreas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
StatePublished - Oct 15 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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