Muscarinic M5 receptors modulate ethanol seeking in rats

Alice E. Berizzi, Christina J. Perry, David M. Shackleford, Craig W. Lindsley, Carrie K. Jones, Nicola A. Chen, Patrick M. Sexton, Arthur Christopoulos*, Christopher J. Langmead*, Andrew J. Lawrence

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the cost to both individual and society, alcohol use disorders (AUDs) remain a major health risk within society, and both relapse and heavy drinking are still poorly controlled with current medications. Here we demonstrate for the first time that a centrally active and selective negative allosteric modulator for the rat M5 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR), ML375, decreases ethanol self-administration and attenuates cue-induced reinstatement of ethanol seeking in ethanol-preferring (iP) rats. Importantly, ML375 did not affect sucrose self-administration or general locomotor activity indicative of a selective effect on ethanol seeking. Based on the expression profile of M5 mAChRs in the brain and the distinct roles different aspects of the dorsal striatum have on long-term and short-term ethanol use, we studied whether intra-striatal microinjection of ML375 modulated ethanol intake in rats. We show in iP rats with an extensive history of ethanol intake that intra-dorsolateral (DL), but not intra-dorsomedial, striatal injections of ML375 reduced ethanol self-administration to a similar extent as the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor ligand varenicline, which has preclinical and clinical efficacy in reducing the reinforcing effects of ethanol. These data implicate the DL striatum as a locus for the effects of cholinergic-acting drugs on ethanol seeking in rats with a history of long-term ethanol use. Accordingly, we demonstrate in rats that selectively targeting the M5 mAChR can modulate both voluntary ethanol intake and cue-induced ethanol seeking and thereby provide direct evidence that the M5 mAChR is a potential novel target for pharmacotherapies aimed at treating AUDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1510-1517
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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