Alcohol use disorder is a significant public health concern, further exacerbated by an increased risk of relapse due to stress. In addition, factors such as biological sex may contribute to the progression of addiction, as females are especially susceptible to stress-induced relapse. While there have been many studies surrounding potential pharmacological interventions for male stress-induced ethanol reinstatement, research regarding females is scarce. Recently, the neuropeptide oxytocin has gained interest as a possible pharmacological intervention for relapse. The present study examines how oxytocin affects yohimbine-induced reinstatement of ethanol-seeking in female rats using a self-administration paradigm. Adult female rats were trained to press a lever to access ethanol in daily self-administration sessions. Rats then underwent extinction training before a yohimbine-induced reinstatement test. Rats administered with yohimbine demonstrated significantly higher lever response indicating a reinstatement of ethanol-seeking behavior. Oxytocin administration, both systemically and directly into the central amygdala, attenuated the effect of yohimbine-induced reinstatement of ethanol-seeking behavior. The findings from this study establish that oxytocin is effective at attenuating alcohol-relapse behavior mediated by the pharmacological stressor yohimbine and that this effect is modulated by the central amygdala in females. This provides valuable insight regarding oxytocin’s potential therapeutic effect in female stress-induced alcohol relapse.
Wilfur, S. M., McNeely, E. C., Lackan, A. A., Bowers, C. P., & Leong, K-C. (2023). Oxytocin attenuates yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol-seeking in female rats via the central amygdala. Behavioral Sciences, 13(7), Article 556. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs13070556
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