Background: Growing evidence suggests that neuroimmune signaling via Toll-like receptors (TLRs) alters brain circuitry related to alcohol use disorders. Both ethanol (EtOH) exposure and the TLR3 agonist, poly(I:C), increase brain TLR3 expression in neurons and glia. Furthermore, previous studies have shown that cortical TLR3 expression is correlated with lifetime EtOH intake in humans. Methods: The current experiments investigated the consequences of poly(I:C) treatment on gene expression in 2 brain regions contributing to alcohol reinforcement, the insular cortex (IC) and nucleus accumbens (Acb) and on operant EtOH self-administration, in Long Evans rats. Results: TLR3 activation increased mRNA levels of neuroimmune genes (TLR3, COX2), glutamatergic genes (mGluR2, mGluR3, GLT1), and the trophic factor BDNF in Acb and IC. Furthermore, increases in each of these genes were correlated with increases in TLR3 mRNA, suggesting that TLR3 induction of these genes may impact excitatory transmission in IC and Acb. TLR3 activation also increased EtOH self-administration 18 days postinjection and enhanced the effects of the mGluR2/3 agonist LY379268 to reduce EtOH self-administration following poly(I:C). Conclusions: Together, these findings suggest lasting consequences of TLR3 activation on gene expression including increases in Group II mGluRs in the Acb. Furthermore, we show an important role for TLR3 signaling in EtOH intake, and a functional involvement of Group II mGluRs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Psychiatry and Mental health