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      Sex-dependent associations between addiction-related behaviors and the microbiome in outbred rats


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          Multiple factors contribute to the etiology of addiction, including genetics, sex, and a number of addiction-related behavioral traits. One behavioral trait where individuals assign incentive salience to food stimuli (“sign-trackers”, ST) are more impulsive compared to those that do not (“goal-trackers”, GT), as well as more sensitive to drugs and drug stimuli. Furthermore, this GT/ST phenotype predicts differences in other behavioral measures. Recent studies have implicated the gut microbiota as a key regulator of brain and behavior, and have shown that many microbiota-associated changes occur in a sex-dependent manner. However, few studies have examined how the microbiome might influence addiction-related behaviors. To this end, we sought to determine if gut microbiome composition was correlated with addiction-related behaviors determined by the GT/ST phenotype.


          Outbred male ( N=101) and female ( N=101) heterogeneous stock rats underwent a series of behavioral tests measuring impulsivity, attention, reward-learning, incentive salience, and locomotor response. Cecal microbiome composition was estimated using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Behavior and microbiome were characterized and correlated with behavioral phenotypes. Robust sex differences were observed in both behavior and microbiome; further analyses were conducted within sex using the pre-established goal/sign-tracking (GT/ST) phenotype and partial least squares differential analysis (PLS-DA) clustered behavioral phenotype.


          Overall microbiome composition was not associated to the GT/ST phenotype. However, microbial alpha diversity was significantly decreased in female STs. On the other hand, a measure of impulsivity had many significant correlations to microbiome in both males and females. Several measures of impulsivity were correlated with the genus Barnesiella in females. Female STs had notable correlations between microbiome and attentional deficient. In both males and females, many measures were correlated with the bacterial families Ruminocococcaceae and Lachnospiraceae.


          These data demonstrate correlations between several addiction-related behaviors and the microbiome specific to sex.

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          Most cited references58

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          Enteric dysbiosis associated with a mouse model of alcoholic liver disease.

          The translocation of bacteria and bacterial products into the circulation contributes to alcoholic liver disease. Intestinal bacterial overgrowth is common in patients with alcoholic liver disease. The aims of our study were to investigate bacterial translocation, changes in the enteric microbiome, and its regulation by mucosal antimicrobial proteins in alcoholic liver disease. We used a mouse model of continuous intragastric feeding of alcohol or an isocaloric diet. Bacterial translocation occurred prior to changes observed in the microbiome. Quantitative changes in the intestinal microflora of these animals were assessed first using conventional culture techniques in the small and large intestine. Although we found no difference after 1 day or 1 week, intestinal bacterial overgrowth was observed in the gastrointestinal tract of mice fed alcohol for 3 weeks compared with control mice fed an isocaloric liquid diet. Because <20% of all gastrointestinal bacteria can be cultured using conventional methodologies, we performed massively parallel pyrosequencing to further assess the qualitative changes in the intestinal microbiome following alcohol exposure. Sequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA genes revealed a relative abundance of Bacteroidetes and Verrucomicrobia bacteria in mice fed alcohol compared with a relative predominance of Firmicutes bacteria in control mice. With respect to the host's transcriptome, alcohol feeding was associated with down-regulation in gene and protein expression of bactericidal c-type lectins Reg3b and Reg3g in the small intestine. Treatment with prebiotics partially restored Reg3g protein levels, reduced bacterial overgrowth, and lessened alcoholic steatohepatitis. Alcohol feeding is associated with intestinal bacterial overgrowth and enteric dysbiosis. Intestinal antimicrobial molecules are dysregulated following chronic alcohol feeding contributing to changes in the enteric microbiome and to alcoholic steatohepatitis. Copyright © 2010 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
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            A selective role for dopamine in reward learning

            Individuals make choices and prioritize goals using complex processes that assign value to rewards and associated stimuli. During Pavlovian learning, previously neutral stimuli that predict rewards can acquire motivational properties, whereby they themselves become attractive and desirable incentive stimuli. But individuals differ in whether a cue acts solely as a predictor that evokes a conditional response, or also serves as an incentive stimulus, and this determines the degree to which a cue might bias choice or even promote maladaptive behavior. Here we use rats that differ in the incentive motivational properties they attribute to food cues to probe the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in stimulus-reward learning. We show that intact dopamine transmission is not required for all forms of learning in which reward cues become effective predictors. Rather, dopamine acts selectively in a form of reward learning in which “incentive salience” is assigned to reward cues. In individuals with a propensity for this form of learning, reward cues come to powerfully motivate and control behavior. This work provides insight into the neurobiology of a form of reward learning that confers increased susceptibility to disorders of impulse control.
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              Intestinal microbiota contributes to individual susceptibility to alcoholic liver disease.

              There is substantial inter-individual diversity in the susceptibility of alcoholics to liver injury. Alterations of intestinal microbiota (IM) have been reported in alcoholic liver disease (ALD), but the extent to which they are merely a consequence or a cause is unknown. We aimed to demonstrate that a specific dysbiosis contributes to the development of alcoholic hepatitis (AH).

                Author and article information

                08 May 2020
                May 2020
                08 May 2020
                : 55
                [a ]APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
                [b ]Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University College Cork, Room 2.33, 2nd Floor, Western Gateway Building, Cork, Ireland
                [c ]Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA
                [d ]Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA
                [e ]Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Cork, Ireland
                [f ]Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, CA, USA
                [g ]Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC, USA
                [h ]Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Science, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
                [i ]Institute for Genomic Medicine, University of California San Diego, CA, USA
                [j ]Center for Microbiome Innovation, University of California San Diego, CA, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author at: Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University College Cork, Room 2.33, 2nd Floor, Western Gateway Building, Cork, Ireland. j.cryan@ 123456ucc.ie
                S2352-3964(20)30144-4 102769
                © 2020 The Author(s)

                This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

                Research paper

                addiction,sign-tracker,microbiome,gut-brain axis,sex
                addiction, sign-tracker, microbiome, gut-brain axis, sex


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