Chemogenetic inhibition of corticotropin-releasing factor neurons in the central amygdala alters binge-like ethanol consumption in male mice

Behav Neurosci. 2022 Dec;136(6):541-550. doi: 10.1037/bne0000522. Epub 2022 Jun 30.


Repetitive bouts of binge drinking can lead to neuroplastic events that alter ethanol's pharmacologic effects and perpetuate excessive consumption. The corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) system is an example of ethanol-induced neuroadaptations that drive excessive ethanol consumption. Our laboratory has previously shown that CRF antagonist, when infused into the central amygdala (CeA), reduces binge-like ethanol consumption. The present study extends this research by assessing the effects of silencing CRF-producing neurons in CeA on binge-like ethanol drinking stemming from "Drinking in the Dark" (DID) procedures. CRF-ires-Cre mice underwent surgery to infuse Gi/o-coupled Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD) virus or a control virus into either the CeA or basolateral amygdala (BLA). Gi/o-DREADD-induced CRF-neuronal inhibition in the CeA resulted in a 33% decrease in binge-like ethanol consumption. However, no effect on ethanol consumption was seen after DREADD manipulation in the BLA. Moreover, CeA CRF-neuronal inhibition had no effect on sucrose consumption. The effects of silencing CRF neurons in the CeA on ethanol consumption are not secondary to changes in motor function or anxiety-like behaviors as assessed in the open-field test (OFT). Finally, the DREADD construct's functional ability to inhibit CRF-neuronal activity was demonstrated by reduced ethanol-induced c-Fos following DREADD activation. Together, these data suggest that the CRF neurons in the CeA play an important role in binge ethanol consumption and that inhibition of the CRF-signaling pathway remains a viable target for manipulating binge-like ethanol consumption. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Amygdaloid Nucleus*
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone* / physiology
  • Ethanol
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons


  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Ethanol