Striatonigral direct pathway 2-arachidonoylglycerol contributes to ethanol effects on synaptic transmission and behavior

Shana M. Augustin*, Alexa L. Gracias, Guoxiang Luo, Rishitha C. Anumola, David M. Lovinger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Endocannabinoids (eCB) and cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) play important roles in mediating short- and long-term synaptic plasticity in many brain regions involved in learning and memory, as well as the reinforcing effects of misused substances. Ethanol-induced plasticity and neuroadaptations predominantly occur in striatal direct pathway projecting medium spiny neurons (dMSNs). It is hypothesized that alterations in eCB neuromodulation may be involved. Recent work has implicated a role of eCB 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) in the rewarding effects of ethanol. However, there is insufficient research to answer which cellular subtype is responsible for mediating the 2-AG eCB signal that might be involved in the rewarding properties of ethanol and the mechanisms by which that occurs. To examine the role of dMSN mediated 2-AG signaling in ethanol related synaptic transmission and behaviors, we used conditional knockout mice in which the 2-AG-synthesizing enzyme diacylglycerol lipase α (DGLα) was deleted in dMSNs, DGLαD1-Cre+. Using acute brain slice photometry and a genetically encoded fluorescent eCB sensor, GRABeCB2.0, to assess real-time eCB mediated activity of sensorimotor inputs from primary motor cortices (M1/M2) to the dorsolateral striatum, we showed that DGLαD1-Cre+ mice had blunted evoked eCB-mediated presynaptic eCB signaling compared to littermate controls. Furthermore, ethanol induced eCB inhibition was significantly reduced in DGLαD1-Cre+ deficient mice. Additionally, there was a reduction in the duration of loss of righting reflex (LORR) to a high dose of ethanol in the DGLαD1-Cre+ mice compared to controls. These mice also showed a male-specific decrease in ethanol preference accompanied by an increase in ethanol-induced water consumption in a voluntary drinking paradigm. There were no significant differences observed in sucrose and quinine consumption between the genotypes. These findings reveal a novel role for dMSN mediated 2-AG signaling in modulating ethanol effects on presynaptic function and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1941-1951
Number of pages11
Issue number13
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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