Stress and alcohol abuse are co-related. Acute alcohol is anxiolytic and stress is cited as a factor in relapse to alcohol use. A primary mediator of the stress response is the neuropeptide corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). The CRF family of endogenous ligands includes urocortin 3 (Ucn 3), which binds selectively to the CRF type 2 receptor and has been implicated in ethanol consumption in dependent and withdrawing rats. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of Ucn 3, delivered centrally to nondependent mice, on limited-access ethanol consumption. Adult C57BL/6J mice were trained to self-administer 10% ethanol during daily, 2-h limited-access sessions, using lickometers to assess drinking patterns for both ethanol and water. Sterile saline or 0.3, 1, or 3 nmol of Ucn 3 was microinjected into the lateral ventricle immediately before the limited-access session in a within-subjects design. There was a significant decrease in ethanol (both ml and g/kg), but not water, intake following Ucn 3 treatment, explained by a change in size of the largest lick run. Food intake at both 2 h and 24 h after injection was statistically unaffected by Ucn 3 administration. These results establish a role for CRF type 2 receptors in a nondependent mouse model of ethanol self-administration.
aDepartment of Behavioral Neuroscience, The Portland Alcohol Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University
bResearch Service, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, Oregon USA
Correspondence to Dr Amanda L. Sharpe, PhD, Department of Physiology-MC7756, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA
Received 6 March 2009 Accepted as revised 1 June 2009