Chronically available alcohol escalates drinking in mice and a single injection of the immune activator lipopolysaccharide can mimic this effect and result in a persistent increase in alcohol consumption. We hypothesized that chronic alcohol drinking and lipopolysaccharide injections will produce some similar molecular changes that play a role in regulation of alcohol intake. We investigated the molecular mechanisms of chronic alcohol consumption or lipopolysaccharide insult by gene expression profiling in prefrontal cortex and liver of C57BL/6J mice. We identified similar patterns of transcriptional changes among four groups of animals, three consuming alcohol (vs water) in different consumption tests and one injected with lipopolysaccharide (vs. vehicle). The three tests of alcohol consumption are the continuous chronic two bottle choice (Chronic), two bottle choice available every other day (Chronic Intermittent) and limited access to one bottle of ethanol (Drinking in the Dark). Gene expression changes were more numerous and marked in liver than in prefrontal cortex for the alcohol treatments and similar in the two tissues for lipopolysaccharide. Many of the changes were unique to each treatment, but there was significant overlap in prefrontal cortex for Chronic-Chronic Intermittent and for Chronic Intermittent-lipopolysaccharide and in liver all pairs showed overlap. In silico cell-type analysis indicated that lipopolysaccharide had strongest effects on brain microglia and liver Kupffer cells. Pathway analysis detected a prefrontal cortex-based dopamine-related (PPP1R1B, DRD1, DRD2, FOSB, PDNY) network that was highly over-represented in the Chronic Intermittent group, with several genes from the network being also regulated in the Chronic and lipopolysaccharide (but not Drinking in the Dark) groups. Liver showed a CYP and GST centered metabolic network shared in part by all four treatments. We demonstrate common consequences of chronic alcohol consumption and immune activation in both liver and brain and show distinct genomic consequences of different types of alcohol consumption.
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