Proopiomelanocortin Messenger RNA is Decreased in the Mediobasal Hypothalamus of Rats Made Dependent on Ethanol

Martin N. Scanlon, Eliane Lazar‐Wesley, Kathleen A. Grant, George Kunos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


It is thought that certain actions of ethanol involve an interaction with endogenous opioids, including proopiomelanocortin‐derived pep‐tides such as β‐endorphin. To examine this possibility, we used a sensitive and specific assay for proopiomelanocortin mRNA to obtain an estimate of the activity of the endorphinergic system in the mediobasal hypothalamus and the pituitary of rats exposed for 10 days in an inhalation chamber to either ethanol or water. This protocol causes dependence in the ethanol‐exposed group, as demonstrated by the presence of withdrawal seizures after cessation of treatment. While ethanol treatment did not affect proopiomelanocortin mRNA levels in the pituitary, the level in hypothalamus was significantly lower in the ethanol‐treated animals than in controls. These results suggest that some effects of ethanol may involve the hypothalamic endorphinergic system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1151
Number of pages5
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethanol
  • Hypothalamus
  • Proopiomelanocortin
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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