Lesions of the extended amygdala in C57BL/6J mice do not block the intermittent ethanol vapor-induced increase in ethanol consumption

Ronnie Dhaher, Deborah Finn, Christopher Snelling, Robert Hitzemann

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61 Scopus citations


Background: The central extended amygdala (cEA) which includes the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) and the lateral posterior bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNSTLP), has been proposed to play a key role in excessive ethanol consumption in humans (Koob and Le Moal, 2005 Nat Neurosci 8:1442). To examine this relationship, we used a murine model of ethanol dependence (Becker and Lopez, 2004 Alcohol Clin Exp Res 28:1829; Lopez and Becker, 2005 Psychopharmacology (Berl) 181:688) and compared animals with sham lesions and electrolytic lesions of the CeA and BNSTLP. Methods: Male C57BL/6J (B6) mice were first acclimated to a limited-access 2-bottle-choice preference procedure. The access period began 3 hours into the dark phase of the light-dark cycle and continued for 2 hours. Once acclimated (1 week), mice underwent chronic exposure to and intermittent withdrawal from ethanol vapor. The animals were then retested in the limited-access 2-bottle-choice preference procedure. In some experiments, electrolytic and sham lesions of the CeA or BNSTLP were performed prior to initiating the 2-bottle choice procedure. Results: In a series of 5 preliminary experiments, mice were randomly assigned either to the standard intermittent ethanol vapor procedure or to the standard procedure but with air in the vapor chamber (control). The air-control procedure produced no change in ethanol intake when compared to baseline consumption. In contrast, intermittent ethanol vapor exposure increased ethanol consumption by almost 50%. The increase in consumption was associated with an increase in total fluid volume consumed and no change in ethanol preference. Lesions of both the BNSTLP and CeA significantly decreased baseline ethanol consumption, the former by decreasing fluid consumption and the latter by decreasing ethanol preference. Intermittent ethanol vapor exposure significantly increased consumption in both the BNSTLP- and CeA-lesioned animals, largely by increasing the total volume of fluid consumed. Conclusions: The results obtained clearly demonstrate that the cEA has a role in the regulation of ethanol consumption in the limited-access procedure. However, neither lesions of the CeA nor BNSTLP prevented the intermittent ethanol vapor-induced increase in consumption. These data do not preclude some role of the cEA in the increased ethanol consumption following intermittent ethanol vapor exposure, but would suggest that other brain regions also must have a significant influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-208
Number of pages12
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis
  • C57BL/6J
  • Central Nucleus of the Amygdala
  • Electrolytic Lesions
  • Ethanol Consumption
  • Extended Amygdala

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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