Growing evidence supports a role for the central nervous system (CNS) neurotransmitter L-glutamate and its metabotropic receptors (mGluRs) in drug addiction in general and alcohol-use disorders in particular. Alcohol dependence, for instance, has a genetic component, and the recent discovery that variations in the gene coding for mGluR7 modulate alcohol consumption further validates involvement of the L-glutamate system. Consequently, increasing interest emerges in developing L-glutamatergic therapies for the treatment of alcohol abuse and dependence. To this end, we performed a detailed behavioral pharmacology study to investigate the regulation of alcohol consumption and preference following administration of the mGluR7-selective drugs N,N'-dibenzyhydryl-ethane-1,2-diamine dihydrochloride (AMN082) and 6-(4-Methoxyphenyl)-5-methyl-3-(4-pyridinyl)-isoxazolo[4,5-c]pyridin-4(5H)-one hydrochloride (MMPIP). Upon administration of the allosteric agonist AMN082 (10 mg/kg, i.p.) in rats, there was a significant decrease in ethanol consumption and preference, without affecting ethanol blood metabolism. In contrast, mGluR7 blockade with MMPIP (10 mg/kg, i.p.) showed an increase in alcohol intake and reversed AMN082's effect on ethanol consumption and preference. Both mGluR7-directed pharmacological tools had no effect on total fluid intake, taste preference, or on spontaneous locomotor activity. In conclusion, these findings support a specific regulatory role for mGluR7 on alcohol drinking and preference and provide evidence for the use of AMN082-type drugs as potential new treatments for alcohol-use disorders in man.
© 2011 The Authors, Addiction Biology © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction.