Dopamine (DA) transmission is a key player in the rewarding aspects of ethanol as well as ethanol dependence. The current dogma is that DA transmission is increased during ethanol via the inhibition of ventral tegmental area (VTA) GABA neurons and that excitation of VTA GABA neurons during withdrawal results in decreased DA transmission. Microglia, the major neuroimmune effector in the brain, may be a key mediator in this process by releasing cytokines following activation. We evaluated the effect of ethanol on cytokine concentrations in the VTA and NAc using a cytometric bead array, and found that low dose ethanol (1.0 g/kg) decreased interleukin (IL)-10 levels, but high dose ethanol increased IL-10 levels (4.0 g/kg). We also used standard cell-attached mode electrophysiological techniques to evaluate the effects of select cytokines on VTA neuron firing rate in vitro. We found no change in firing rate in response to IL-6, but an increase in firing rate in VTA DA neurons response to IL-10. Consistent with the changes in firing rate, optically-evoked IPSCs were also found to be decreased in response to IL-10. Ex vivo voltammetry and in vivo microdialysis were done to determine whether IL-10 can directly result in an increase in DA release. Although ex vivo voltammetry showed no change in DA release, IL-10 increased DA release in vivo. These findings suggest that the rewarding and/or addictive effects of ethanol are mediated by cytokines, specifically the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Williams, Stephanie Bair, "Neuroimmune-Mediated Alcohol Effects on Ventral Tegmental Area Neurons" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 7326.
GABA, dopamine, alcohol, cytokine, microglia, neuroimmune