Adolescent alcohol use is one of the strongest predictors for the development of an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Notably, this period of risk coincides with the development of affective disorders, which disproportionately impact and drive problematic drinking behavior in women. Stress is a particularly salient factor that drives relapse during periods of abstinence. Previous work in our lab has shown that adolescent intermittent ethanol vapor (AIE) produces sex-dependent changes in glutamatergic activity in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and behavioral outcomes following acute restraint stress in adulthood. In females, AIE disrupts group 1 metabotropic glutamate (mGlu1/5) receptor activity and enhances anhedonia-like behavior. The current study site-specifically knocked down mGlu5 receptors in the BNST of male and female Grm5loxp mice, exposed them to AIE, and observed the interaction of AIE and stress on negative affect-like behaviors in adulthood. These negative affect-like behaviors included the novelty-induced hypophagia task following acute restraint stress, open field activity, and contextual fear conditioning. Overall, we replicated our previous findings that AIE enhanced anhedonia-like activity in the novelty-induced hypophagia task in females and fear acquisition in males. The primary effect of BNST-mGlu5 receptor knockdown was that it independently enhanced anhedonia-like activity in females. Correlation analyses revealed that behavior in these paradigms showed poor interdependence. These results indicate that preclinical models of negative affective-like states encompass distinct features that may have independent, clinically relevant mechanisms. Further, modulating mGlu5 receptors is a prospective treatment target for females experiencing anhedonic-like states that make them susceptible to alcohol relapse.
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Kasten, Chelsea R.; Holmgren, Eleanor B.; Lerner, Mollie R.; and Wills, Tiffany A., "BNST Specific mGlu5 Receptor Knockdown Regulates Sex-Dependent Expression of Negative Affect Produced by Adolescent Ethanol Exposure and Adult Stress" (2021). School of Medicine Faculty Publications. 15.