Up-regulation of γ-aminobutyric acid transporter I mediates ethanol sensitivity in mice

J. H. Hu, Y. H. Ma, N. Yang, Z. T. Mei, M. H. Zhang, J. Fei, L. H. Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Ethanol is among the most widely abused drugs in the world. Chronic ethanol consumption leads to ethanol tolerance and addiction, and impairs learning and memory. Na+/Cl- dependent GABA transporters play an important role in controlling the concentration of GABA in the synaptic cleft, and thus they control the intensity and duration of synaptic transmission of GABA. It has been suggested that GABAergic system is involved in ethanol consumption, tolerance and addiction, because chronic ethanol consumption alters the expression of GABAA receptors and drugs on GABA receptors affect ethanol actions. The results of the present study reveal that that activity of GABA transporters in mouse brain after 15-min acute ethanol injection or after chronic ethanol consumption is increased. Moreover, mice pre-injected with a competitive or a noncompetitive antagonist of γ-aminobutyric acid transporter subtype 1 (GAT1) showed high sensitivity to the sedative/hypnotic effects of ethanol. In contrast, transgenic mice overexpressing GAT1 displayed low sensitivity to ethanol, as shown by the righting reflex test. Mice overexpressing GAT1 survived a lethal dose of ethanol (9 g/kg, i.p.) longer, maintained locomotor activity longer after a sub-lethal dose (1.75 g/kg, i.p.) and exhibited a higher median lethal dose than wild-type littermates. These results suggest that GAT1 plays an important role in sensitivity to ethanol, and might be a therapeutic target for alcoholism prevention and treatment. Acute and chronic ethanol administration resulted in the increase of GABA transporter function. Use of GAT1 selective inhibitors and GAT1 overexpressing mice thus demonstrate that GAT1 should be an important protein mediating sensitivity to ethanol in mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-812
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcoholism
  • GABA re-uptake
  • GABA transporter
  • Inhibitor
  • Transgenic mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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