Enhanced Alcohol Preference and Anxiolytic Alcohol Effects in Niemann-Pick Disease Model in Mice

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Kalinichenko, Liubov S.
Mühle, Christiane
Eulenburg, Volker
Praetner, Marc
Reichel, Martin
Gulbins, Erich
Kornhuber, Johannes
Müller, Christian P.
Frontiers Media S.A.

Major depression and alcohol use disorder are severe psychiatric diseases affecting the world's population with high comorbidity level. However, the pathogenesis of this comorbidity remains unclear, and no selective treatment for this condition is available. A pathogenic pathway and a possible therapeutic target for the treatment of depression-alcoholism comorbidity based on the hyperfunction of acid sphingomyelinase (Asm) were recently suggested. Here we analyzed the effects of alcohol on the depression/anxiety state of homozygous Asm-knockout mice (Asm − /−), which can be considered as a model of an early stage of Niemann-Pick disease, as well as their drinking pattern under normal and stress conditions. It was observed that forced treatment with alcohol (2 g/kg, i.p.) reduces the anxiety level of Asm−/− mice as measured in the elevated plus maze (EPM) test, but enhances the depression level in the forced swim test (FST). The analysis of drinking pattern of these animals in a free-choice alcohol drinking paradigm revealed higher alcohol intake and preference in Asm−/− mice compared to wild type (wt) littermates. However, this difference was overwritten by the stress exposure. Stronger sedating effects of alcohol were observed in Asm−/− mice compared to wt animals in the loss of righting reflex test after single and repeated alcohol injections (3 g/kg, i.p.). Altogether, the present findings might indicate an Asm involvement in the mechanisms of comorbidity between alcoholism and anxiety/depression.

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Frontiers in Neurology
Frontiers in Neurology 10 (2019). <https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2019.00731/full>
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