Effects of chemogenetic manipulation of the nucleus accumbens core in male C57BL/6J mice

Kayla G. Townsley, Marissa B. Borrego, Angela R. Ozburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Binge drinking is a widespread public health concern with limited effective treatment options. To better select pharmaceutical targets, it is imperative to expand our knowledge of the underlying neural mechanisms involved in binge drinking. Our previous experiments in C57BL/6J female mice found that increasing activity in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) core using excitatory Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs) reduced binge-like drinking. These results differed from what has been found in males; however, it is unclear whether differences in experimental procedures or sex underlie these discrepancies. We matched the conditions used in our female study and asked whether bidirectional manipulation of NAc core activity has different effects on binge-like drinking in males. Male C57BL/6J mice were stereotaxically injected with AAV2 hSyn-HA hM3Dq (excitatory), -hM4Di (inhibitory), or -eGFP bilaterally into the NAc core. We tested the effects of altering NAc activity on binge-like ethanol intake using Drinking in the Dark (DID). During the first week, mice were pre-treated with vehicle to establish baseline ethanol intake. In week 2, mice were treated with 1 mg/kg CNO prior to DID to determine the effects of DREADD-induced changes in NAc core activity on ethanol intake. Decreasing activity via CNO/hM4Di significantly decreased binge-like drinking in male mice relative to eGFP and hM4Di groups. We also measured intake of sucrose, quinine, and water after CNO treatment and found that increasing NAc core activity via CNO/hM3Dq increased quinine intake, and increased water intake over time. We did not observe significant differences in the GFP or hM4Di groups. This work suggests there exist apparent sex-related differences in NAc core contributions to binge-like alcohol drinking, thus demonstrating the need for inclusion of both sexes in future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • binge drinking
  • chemogenetics
  • nucleus accumbens
  • sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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