Melanocortin activity in the amygdala influences alcohol intake

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2011 Mar;98(1):112-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2010.12.010. Epub 2010 Dec 15.


Melanocortins have been reported to affect alcohol intake through actions in the hypothalamus thought to be mediated by melanocortin MC4 receptors. Since these receptors are expressed in a number of amygdala regions, we have explored their role in the regulation of alcohol intake in both alcohol-preferring (P) and non-preferring (NP) rats. Injections were made at the border of the central amygdala nucleus and the basolateral amygdala. The MC3/MC4R agonist MTII reduced alcohol and food intake but increased water intake while the selective MC4R antagonist HS014 only increased food and water intake. The MC3/MC4R antagonist SHU9119 increased food and water but had little effect on alcohol intake. However, when the SHU9119 stimulation of food intake was prevented by pair-feeding, SHU9119 induced a large and prolonged decline in alcohol intake that was paralleled by an increase in water intake. These effects were only observed in P rats. We conclude that melanocortin activity in the amygdala can alter the selective preference for water and alcohol independent of effects on food intake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology*
  • Amygdala / drug effects
  • Amygdala / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Drinking / drug effects
  • Drinking / physiology
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Eating / physiology
  • Male
  • Melanocortins / physiology*
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones / pharmacology
  • Models, Animal
  • Peptides, Cyclic / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 3
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Melanocortin / antagonists & inhibitors


  • HS014 cyclic peptide
  • Melanocortins
  • Peptides, Cyclic
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 3
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4
  • Receptors, Melanocortin
  • melanocortin 3 receptor, rat
  • SHU 9119
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones