Neuropeptide Y response to alcohol is altered in nucleus accumbens of mice selectively bred for drinking to intoxication

Amanda M. Barkley-Levenson, Andrey E. Ryabinin, John C. Crabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The High Drinking in the Dark (HDID) mice have been selectively bred for drinking to intoxicating blood alcohol levels and represent a genetic model of risk for binge-like drinking. Presently, little is known about the specific genetic factors that promote excessive intake in these mice. Previous studies have identified neuropeptide Y (NPY) as a potential target for modulating alcohol intake. NPY expression differs in some rodent lines that have been selected for high and low alcohol drinking phenotypes, as well as inbred mouse strains that differ in alcohol preference. Alcohol drinking and alcohol withdrawal also produce differential effects on NPY expression in the brain. Here, we assessed brain NPY protein levels in HDID mice of two replicates of selection and control heterogeneous stock (HS) mice at baseline (water drinking) and after binge-like alcohol drinking to determine whether selection is associated with differences in NPY expression and its sensitivity to alcohol. NPY levels did not differ between HDID and HS mice in any brain region in the water-drinking animals. HS mice showed a reduction in NPY levels in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) - especially in the shell - in ethanol-drinking animals vs. water-drinking controls. However, HDID mice showed a blunted NPY response to alcohol in the NAc core and shell compared to HS mice. These findings suggest that the NPY response to alcohol has been altered by selection for drinking to intoxication in a region-specific manner. Thus, the NPY system may represent a potential target for altering binge-like alcohol drinking in these mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Alcohol
  • Behavioral genetics
  • Binge drinking
  • Drinking in the dark
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Selective breeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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