Blockade of alcohol escalation and "relapse" drinking by pharmacological FAAH inhibition in male and female C57BL/6J mice

Zhou Y, Schwartz BI, Giza J, Gross SS, Lee FS, Kreek MJ
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2017; 234(19):2955-70.


BACKGROUND: Anandamide (AEA)-dependent signaling is regulated by the catabolic enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Several lines of evidence have demonstrated that FAAH and AEA are involved in the behavioral effects of alcohol. Therefore, we investigated whether a selective FAAH inhibitor, URB597 (cyclohexylcarbamic acid 3'-[aminocarbonyl]-[1,1'-biphenyl]-3-yl ester), altered alcohol intake in mice in a voluntary alcohol drinking model.
METHODS: Mice, subjected to 3 weeks of chronic intermittent access (IA) in a two-bottle choice paradigm with 24-h access every other day, developed rapid escalation of alcohol intake and high preference. We evaluated the pharmacological effects of URB597 after both acute (1-day) withdrawal from chronic IA and 1-week withdrawal using the alcohol deprivation effect (ADE) model. AEA and N-acyl ethanolamide (NAE) abundances were determined after chronic IA, acute (1-day), or long-term (1 and 2 weeks) withdrawal in four brain regions.
RESULTS: Acute pretreatment with URB597 reduced alcohol intake and preference after acute withdrawal. This effect was blocked by pretreatment with a selective type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) antagonist, suggesting a CB1-mediated mechanism. Both single- and multiple-dosing regimens with an effective dose of URB597 prevented the ADE, with no tolerance development after the multi-dosing regimen. AEA and NAE levels were transiently increased in all brain regions measured after acute withdrawal, indicating that the endocannabinoid system is involved in acute alcohol withdrawal stress response.
CONCLUSION: FAAH inhibitors reduce alcohol escalation and "relapse" drinking in mice.