Chemicals and Drugs


The dynorphin/kappa opioid receptor (DYN/KOR) system appears to be a key mediator of the behavioral effects of chronic exposure to alcohol. Although KOR opioid receptor antagonists have been shown to decrease stress-related behaviors in animal models during acute ethanol withdrawal, the role of the DYN/KOR system in regulating long-term behavioral changes following protracted abstinence from ethanol is not well understood. The objective of the current study was to further explore the role of the DYN/KOR system in regulating stress-related behavioral changes associated with acute withdrawal and protracted abstinence from ethanol. More specifically, the present experiments sought to examine the ability of the KOR antagonist norbinaltorphimine (nor-BNI) to reverse depressive-like behavior in the forced swim test in rats exposed to chronic ethanol. In the first experiment, rats were fed an ethanol or control liquid diet for 28–30 days, and then 24 hours after removal of the diet, were exposed to inescapable swim stress. Immediately following this procedure, rats were injected with nor-BNI (20 mg/kg) or saline and then tested 24 hours later in the forced swim test. A second experiment used a similar procedure to examine the effects of nor-BNI on behavioral changes during protracted abstinence in rats tested in the forced swim test 3 weeks after exposure to the ethanol liquid diet procedure. Ethanol-dependent rats showed increased immobility, which is thought to indicate a depressive-like state, when examined during acute withdrawal and protracted abstinence compared to controls, an effect attenuated by nor-BNI. These results suggest that the DYN/KOR system plays role in mediating both short- and long-term behavioral changes associated with depression following chronic alcohol exposure.

Original Citation

Jarman, S. K., Haney, A. M., & Valdez, G. R. (2018). Kappa opioid regulation of depressive-like behavior during acute withdrawal and protracted abstinence from ethanol. PLOS ONE, 13(9), e0205016. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0205016