Nucleus accumbens shell small conductance potassium channels underlie adolescent ethanol exposure-induced anxiety.

A new interesting article has been published in Neuropsychopharmacology. 2019 May 16. doi: 10.1038/s41386-019-0415-7. and titled:

Nucleus accumbens shell small conductance potassium channels underlie adolescent ethanol exposure-induced anxiety.

Authors of this article are:

Shan L, Galaj E, Ma YY.

A summary of the article is shown below:

Alcohol use typically begins in adolescence, increasing the likelihood of adult mental disorders such as anxiety. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying the consequences of adolescent alcohol exposure as well as the behavioral consequences remain poorly understood. We examined the effects of adolescent or adult chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) exposure on intrinsic excitability of striatal medium-sized spiny neurons (MSNs) and anxiety levels. Rats underwent one of the following procedures: (1) light-dark transition (LDT) and open-field (OF) tests to evaluate anxiety levels and general locomotion; (2) whole-cell patch clamp recordings and biocytin labeling to assess excitability of striatal MSNs, as well as morphological properties; and (3) western blot immunostaining to determine small conductance (SK) calcium-activated potassium channel protein levels. Three weeks, but not 2 days, after CIE treatment, adolescent CIE-treated rats showed shorter crossover latency from the light to dark side in the LDT test and higher MSN excitability in the nucleus accumbens shell (NAcS). Furthermore, the amplitude of the medium afterhyperpolarization (mAHP), mediated by SK channels, and SK3 protein levels in the NAcS decreased concomitantly. Finally, increased anxiety levels, increased excitability, and decreased amplitude of mAHP of NAcS MSNs were reversed by SK channel activator 1-EBIO and mimicked by the SK channel blocker apamin. Thus, adolescent ethanol exposure increases adult anxiety-like behavior by downregulating SK channel function and protein expression, which leads to an increase of intrinsic excitability in NAcS MSNs. SK channels in the NAcS may serve as a target to treat adolescent alcohol binge exposure-induced mental disorders, such as anxiety in adulthood.

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