Background: G protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels contribute to the effects of a number of drugs of abuse, including ethanol. However, the roles of individual subunits in the rewarding effects of ethanol are poorly understood. Methods: We compare conditioned place preference (CPP) in GIRK3 subunit knock-out (GIRK3-/-), heterozygote (GIRK3+/-), and wild-type (WT) mice. In addition, the development of locomotor tolerance/sensitization and the effects of EtOH intoxication on associative learning (fear conditioning) are also assessed. Results: Our data show significant EtOH CPP in GIRK3-/- and GIRK3+/- mice, but not in the WT littermates. In addition, we demonstrate that these effects are not due to differences in EtOH metabolism, the development of EtOH tolerance/sensitivity, or associative learning abilities. While there were no consistent genotype differences in the fear conditioning assay, our data do show a selective sensitization of the impairing effects of EtOH intoxication on contextual learning, but no effect on cued learning. Conclusions: These findings suggest that GIRK3 plays a role in EtOH reward. Furthermore, the selectivity of this effect suggests that GIRK channels could be an effective therapeutic target for the prevention and/or treatment of alcoholism.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 Research Society on Alcoholism.
- Conditioned Place Preference
- Fear Conditioning
- GIRK Channels