Repeated ethanol exposure influences key enzymes in cholesterol and lipid homeostasis via the AMPK pathway in the rat prefrontal cortex

Shijie Xu, Se Jin Jeong, Gang Li, Ja Wook Koo, Ung Gu Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cholesterol homeostasis has been proposed to be implicated in the development of addiction. However, the effects of ethanol on cholesterol homeostasis within the brain are not well understood. One of the most important regulators of cholesterol homeostasis is HMG-CoA reductase (HMG-CoAR), the rate-limiting enzyme of cholesterol biosynthesis. We examined the phosphorylation of HMG-CoAR and the other key regulator of lipid synthesis, acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), following acute or chronic treatment with ethanol (0.5, 1, or 2 g/kg) in the rat prefrontal cortex. The phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which regulates the HMG-CoAR activity, and its well-known upstream regulators, was also studied. The phosphorylation of HMG-CoAR and ACC were transiently increased by ethanol treatment only in animals previously treated chronically with ethanol. Acute administration to naïve animals did not induce the phosphorylation, regardless of dosage. Similarly, the phosphorylation of AMPK and the upstream regulators, LKB1 and CaMK4, were transiently increased only in chronically ethanol-treated animals. In naïve animals, a high dose (2 g/kg) of ethanol decreased phosphorylation. The phosphorylation of TAK1, another upstream kinase of AMPK, was increased only from 30 min to 24 h after the chronic treatment with ethanol. Together, these results indicate that repeated exposure is required for the activating effect of ethanol on HMG-CoAR and ACC. This effect seems to be mediated by the AMPK system, and may contribute to the long-lasting neuroadaptation involved in the development of alcohol dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jun 2020



  • AMPK pathway
  • HMG-CoAR
  • cholesterol homeostasis
  • ethanol
  • prefrontal cortex

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