Exploring the consequences of social defeat stress and intermittent ethanol drinking on dopamine dynamics in the rat nucleus accumbens

Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 10;8(1):332. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18706-y.


The current study aimed to explore how presynaptic dopamine (DA) function is altered following brief stress episodes and chronic ethanol self-administration and whether these neuroadaptations modify the acute effects of ethanol on DA dynamics. We used fast-scan cyclic voltammetry to evaluate changes in DA release and uptake parameters in rat nucleus accumbens brain slices by analyzing DA transients evoked through single pulse electrical stimulation. Adult male rats were divided into four groups: ethanol-naïve or ethanol drinking (six week intermittent two-bottle choice) and stressed (mild social defeat) or nonstressed. Results revealed that the mild stress significantly increased DA release and uptake in ethanol-naïve subjects, compared to nonstressed controls. Chronic ethanol self-administration increased the DA uptake rate and occluded the effects of stress on DA release dynamics. Bath-applied ethanol decreased stimulated DA efflux in a concentration-dependent manner in all groups; however, the magnitude of this effect was blunted by either stress or chronic ethanol, or by a combination of both procedures. Together, these findings suggest that stress and ethanol drinking may promote similar adaptive changes in accumbal presynaptic DA release measures and that these changes may contribute to the escalation in ethanol intake that occurs during the development of alcohol use disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / metabolism*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Self Administration
  • Stress, Psychological*


  • Biomarkers
  • Dopamine