Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Online Early Articles 15 April 2008
Activation of the dopaminergic (DA) neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) by ethanol has been implicated in its rewarding and reinforcing effects. At most central synapses, ethanol generally increases inhibitory synaptic transmission; however, no studies have explored the effect of acute ethanol on GABAergic transmission in the VTA.
Acute exposure of VTA-DA neurons to ethanol (25 to 50 mM) robustly enhanced GABAergic spontaneous and miniature IPSC frequency while inducing a slight enhancement of spontaneous IPSC (sIPSC) amplitude. Ethanol (50 mM) enhanced paired-pulse depression of evoked IPSCs, further suggesting enhanced GABA release onto VTA-DA neurons. The frequency of sIPSCs was suppressed by the GABAB agonist, baclofen (1.25 μM) and enhanced by the antagonist, SCH50911 (20 μM); however, neither appeared to modulate or occlude the effects of ethanol on sIPSC frequency.
The present results indicate that ethanol increases postsynaptic GABAA receptor sensitivity, enhances action potential-independent GABA release onto VTA-DA neurons, and that this latter effect is independent of GABAB auto-receptor inhibition of GABA release.Read Full Abstract
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