Impaired GABA Plasticity at ovBNST Synapses Predicts Compulsive Drinking in Schedule-Induced Polydipsia
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Schedule-Induced Polydipsia (SIP) is an animal model of adjunctive drinking induced when a hungry rat receives food on a fixed interval of time. This model has been implemented as a model of compulsive behaviour and may represent a powerful tool to understand the neural mechanisms of compulsion. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is thought to translate challenges to energy homeostasis into consummatory behaviours, and is therefore likely to contribute to drinking behaviours displayed by food restricted rats in the SIP paradigm. Furthermore, the BNST seems implicated in various compulsive behaviors, including compulsive water drinking in rats. Therefore, the goal of this project was to determine whether compulsive drinking in the SIP paradigm was associated with alterations in transmission at oval BNST (ovBNST) synapses. Rats undergoing the SIP procedure had restricted food access (1-hours/day) for a total of 29 days. After 7 days of food restriction and for the next 21 consecutive days, the rats had daily 2-hour access to operant conditioning chambers where they were presented with a 45-mg food pellet every minute. Water consumed during these 2-hour sessions was measured and the rats that drank 15 ml or more water for a minimum of 3 consecutive days were considered High Drinkers (HD; n=17) or otherwise, Low Drinkers (LD; n=13). Brain slices whole-cell patch clamp recordings conducted 18-hours after the last SIP training showed that chronic food restriction changed low frequency stimulation (LFS) - induced long-term potentiation of ovBNST inhibitory synaptic transmission (iLTP) into LFS - induced long-term depression (iLTD) in a majority of neurons, regardless of drinking behaviours. However, ad libitum access to food between the last day of SIP training and brain slice recordings (18-hour refeed) rescued LFS-induced iLTP in LD but not in HD, suggesting that impaired bi-directional plasticity of ovBNST synapses may contribute to compulsive drinking in the SIP paradigm.