BACKGROUND: Alcohol dependence is a chronic and severe health problem which puts a heavy burden on society. Alcohol activates mesolimbic dopamine circuity to achieve its reinforcing effect. While TAAR1 is critically involved in the modulation of dopamine, there is little evidence indicating that TAAR1 could play a role in behavioral effects of ethanol.
METHODS: By using the animal model of behavioral sensitization induced by ethanol in mice, the present study was performed to investigate whether the activation of TAAR1 would affect the behavioral plasticity of ethanol.
RESULTS: Repeated administration with ethanol induced a significant increased locomotion in WT mice with females showing higher level of sensitization to ethanol than male mice. The TAAR1 agonist RO5263397 significantly decreased the expression of ethanol-induced behavioral sensitization both in male and female WT mice (0.1 and 0.32 mg/kg). Repeated RO5263397 exposure also prevented the development of behavioral sensitization to ethanol both in male and female WT mice. Moreover, while TAAR1-KO mice developed normal levels of ethanol-induced behavioral sensitization, RO5263397 did not affect this behavior in TAAR1-KO mice.
CONCLUSIONS: These results indicated that the TAAR1 agonist RO5263397 negatively regulated the expression and development of ethanol-elicited behavioral sensitization in WT but not in TAAR1-KO mice. The present study suggests that TAAR1 is probably involved in certain addiction-like effects of alcohol and could be a useful drug target for the development of new medications to treat alcohol dependence.