Involvement of A2A receptors in anxiolytic, locomotor and motivational properties of ethanol in mice.
Alcohol abuse and dependence are important medical, social and economical problems, affecting millions of people. A relatively recent habit among young people is mixing alcohol with energy drinks (ED), in spite of the risks involved may be higher than those associated with alcohol consumption alone. The mixture of alcohol and energy drinks, both with stimulant properties, may alter the perception of intoxication and could lead individuals to believe they are less drunk and can drink more or for longer periods of time. In animals, the repeated administration of ethanol can lead to a progressive increase of the locomotor stimulant effect, known as behavioral sensitization, a drug-dependent behavioral plasticity associated with vulnerability to addiction. As well as for addiction, there are clear individual differences in the level of sensitization to ethanol among species and even among individuals from the same strain. The present study assessed how ED affects the expression of ethanol sensitization. Female mice chronically treated with ethanol (2.4 g/kg) were classified as low-sensitized or high-sensitized. Two days later, different groups of mice were submitted to saline+water, ethanol+water or ethanol+ED systemic challenges. As expected, only the high-sensitized group expressed clear sensitization after ethanol administration. However, the administration of ethanol+ED triggered the sensitization expression in the low-sensitized group. These data indicate that the combined use of ED and ethanol can potentiate the stimulant and, consequently, the reward effects of ethanol in previously treated mice. If a similar process occurs in human beings, the use of ED can increase the risk of developing alcohol abuse or dependence.