First Advisor

Angela Ozburn

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biochemistry and University Honors




Nucleus accumbens, Binge drinking, Drinking behavior, Neurosciences




Background: Binge drinking is a dangerous pattern of behavior. We previously used Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) to modulate binge drinking. Here, we test whether chronically manipulating NAc activity can produce lasting effects on drinking, the transcriptome, and neuronal morphology.

Methods: High Drinking in the Dark (HDID-1) mice were stereotaxically injected with AAV2 DREADDs or GFP in the NAc and treated with vehicle or clozapine-n-oxide (CNO; 1mg/kg) prior to Drinking in the Dark (DID). We then performed 1) RNA-Seq to identify genes changed with alcohol and rescued by CNO and 2) Golgi-Cox staining to determine whether CNO rescued alcohol-induced changes in neuronal morphology. We tested whether targeting HDAC4 via LMK235 (0, 5, 20mg/kg) could reduce drinking.

Results: Chronically increasing NAc activity (via CNO/hM3Dq) decreased binge-like drinking (e.g. Hdac4 was increased with binge drinking, and ameliorated with CNO). Binge drinking increased neuronal complexity in the NAc, and this effect was not present in mice treated with CNO. Chronic treatment with LMK235 reduced binge-like drinking

Discussion: We used DREADDs to produce lasting reductions on drinking behavior, which ameliorated the effects of alcohol on the transcriptome and neuronal morphology. Further, we were able to target specific molecular pathways altered by alcohol but rescued by excitatory DREADDs using pharmacology to mimic the behavioral effects of DREADDs.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier