Somatostatin neurons control an alcohol binge drinking prelimbic microcircuit in mice

Nigel C. Dao, Dakota F. Brockway, Malini Suresh Nair, Avery R. Sicher, Nicole A. Crowley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Somatostatin (SST) neurons have been implicated in a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety, but their role in substance use disorders, including alcohol use disorder (AUD), is not fully characterized. Here, we found that repeated cycles of alcohol binge drinking via the Drinking-in-the-Dark (DID) model led to hypoactivity of SST neurons in the prelimbic (PL) cortex by diminishing their action potential firing capacity and excitatory/inhibitory transmission dynamic. We examined their role in regulating alcohol consumption via bidirectional chemogenetic manipulation. Both hM3Dq-induced excitation and KORD-induced silencing of PL SST neurons reduced alcohol binge drinking in males and females, with no effect on sucrose consumption. Alcohol binge drinking disinhibited pyramidal neurons by augmenting SST neurons-mediated GABA release and synaptic strength onto other GABAergic populations and reducing spontaneous inhibitory transmission onto pyramidal neurons. Pyramidal neurons additionally displayed increased intrinsic excitability. Direct inhibition of PL pyramidal neurons via hM4Di was sufficient to reduce alcohol binge drinking. Together these data revealed an SST-mediated microcircuit in the PL that modulates the inhibitory dynamics of pyramidal neurons, a major source of output to subcortical targets to drive reward-seeking behaviors and emotional response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1906-1917
Number of pages12
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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