Using μ-opioid receptor knockout (MKO) mice, we examined ethanol-induced FOS immunoreactivity (FOSir) in the brain as an indicator of neuronal activation to assess the role of the μ-opioid receptor in modulating ethanol's actions in the central nervous system (CNS). Saline stimulated FOSir in the paraventricular thalamic nucleus (PVA) and the dorsal hypothalamic area (DA) in MKO mice, but not in wild-type (WT), suggesting that MKO homozygotes may differ responsively from WT. Treatment with ethanol (4 g/kg, i.p.) induced FOSir in the PVA, DA, supraoptic (SO), paraventricular hypothalamic (PVN), lateral parabrachial (LPB), locus coeruleus (LC) and Edinger-Westphal (EW) nuclei in both MKO and WT mice. However, ethanol stimulated modest FOSir in the lateral septal division (LSV), suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCh) and the dorsal and ventral lateral geniculate nuclei (DLG and VLG) in WT mice, but not in MKO mice. In contrast, higher levels of ethanol-induced FOSir were observed in the ventral pallidum (VP) and globus pallidus (GP) of MKO mice as compared to WT. These data suggest that ethanol continues to activate several brain regions, even without the μ-opioid receptor pathway. However, the μ-opioid receptor may be significant in mediating ethanol's effects in some restricted areas of the brain.
- Knockout mice
- μ-Opioid receptor