Indirect Medium Spiny Neurons in the Dorsomedial Striatum Regulate Ethanol-Containing Conditioned Reward Seeking

Sa Ik Hong, Seungwoo Kang, Jiang Fan Chen, Doo Sup Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Adenosine 2A receptor (A2AR)-containing indirect medium spiny neurons (iMSNs) in the dorsomedial striatum (DMS) contribute to reward-seeking behaviors. However, those roles for ethanol-seeking behaviors remain unknown. To investigate ethanol-seeking behaviors, we used an ethanol-containing reward (10% ethanol and 10% sucrose solution; 10E10S). Upon conditioning with 10E10S, mice that initially only preferred 10% sucrose, not 10E10S, showed a stronger preference for 10E10S. Then, we investigated whether the manipulation of the DMS-external globus pallidus (GPe) iMSNs circuit alters the ethanol-containing reward (10E10S) seeking behaviors using the combination of pharmacologic and optogenetic approaches. DMS A2AR activation dampened operant conditioning-induced ethanol-containing reward, whereas A2AR antagonist abolished the effects of the A2AR agonist and restored ethanol-containing reward-seeking. Moreover, pre-ethanol exposure potentiated the A2AR-dependent reward-seeking. Interestingly, mice exhibiting ethanol-containing reward-seeking showed the reduction of the DMS iMSNs activity, suggesting that disinhibiting iMSNs decreases reward-seeking behaviors. In addition, we found that A2AR activation reversed iMSNs neural activity in the DMS. Similarly, optogenetic stimulation of the DMS-GPe iMSNs reduced ethanol-containing reward-seeking, whereas optogenetic inhibition of the DMS-GPe iMSNs reversed this change. Together, our study demonstrates that DMS A2AR and iMSNs regulate ethanol-containing reward-seeking behaviors.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Our findings highlight the mechanisms of how operant conditioning develops the preference of ethanol-containing conditioned reward. Mice exhibiting ethanol-containing reward-seeking showed a reduction of the indirect medium spiny neuronal activity in the dorsomedial striatum. Pharmacological activation of adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) or optogenetic activation of indirect medium spiny neurons dampened operant conditioned ethanol-containing reward-seeking, whereas inhibiting this neuronal activity restored ethanol-containing reward-seeking. Furthermore, repeated intermittent ethanol exposure potentiated A2AR-dependent reward-seeking. Therefore, our finding suggests that A2AR-containing indirect medium spiny neuronal activation reduces ethanol-containing reward-seeking, which may provide a potential therapeutic target for alcohol use disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7206-7217
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 4 2019


  • A2AR
  • dorsomedial striatum
  • ethanol
  • medium spiny neuron
  • reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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