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Presence of ethanol sensitive glycine receptors in medium spiny neurons in the mouse nucleus accumbens

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The Journal of Physiology

Published online on

Abstract

Alcohol abuse causes major social, economic and health‐related problems worldwide. Alcohol, like other drugs of abuse, increases levels of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, facilitating behavioural reinforcement and substance abuse. Previous studies suggested that glycine receptors (GlyRs) are involved in the regulation of accumbal dopamine levels. Here, we investigated the presence of GlyRs in accumbal dopamine receptor medium spiny neurons (MSNs) of C57BL/6J mice, analyzing mRNA expression‐levels and immunoreactivity of GlyR subunits, as well as ethanol sensitivity. We found that GlyR α1 subunits are expressed at higher levels than α2, α3 and β in the mouse nucleus accumbens and were located preferentially in Dopamine receptor 1 (DRD1) positive MSNs. Interestingly, the glycine‐evoked currents in dissociated DRD1 positive MSNs were potentiated by ethanol. Also, the potentiation of the GlyR‐mediated tonic current by ethanol suggests that they modulate the excitability of DRD1‐positive MSNs in nAc. This study should contribute to understanding the role of GlyR α1 in the reward system and might help to develop novel pharmacological therapies to treat alcoholism and other addiction‐related and compulsive behaviours. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved