Alleviating anxiety and depression is pivotal for reducing the risk of relapse in alcoholics. Currently available anxiolytic treatments are limited by side effects, including reduced efficacy in alcoholics, addiction, and sedation. We examined whether the neuropeptide S receptor (NPSR) was effective at controlling ethanol consumption and the anxiety and depression produced by forced abstinence from ethanol. We found that the anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects of NPS are enhanced in acute ethanol abstinent mice. In addition, we found that NPS reduced ethanol consumption and is not in and of itself rewarding. We also provide evidence that ethanol consumption increases the ability of NPS to modulate neuronal activity in the basolateral amygdala. Finally, we found that local injection of NPS in the basolateral amygdala promotes anxiolysis after chronic ethanol consumption, thereby providing insight into the molecular mechanism underlying the changes in behavioral response to NPS. In light of the improved anxiolytic efficacy and benign side effects of NPS in ethanol-withdrawn animals, the NPSR may prove a suitable target for reducing relapse in alcoholism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health