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Expression of the dopamine receptor D2 (D2R) has been extensively studied in connection with alcoholism. Experimentally increasing D2R expression reduces ethanol consumption and the inverse result has been found when D2R expression is decreased. Ethanol consumption is also affected by maternal care. Previous studies in our lab found that animals which received lower maternal licking/grooming (LG) displayed a higher ethanol preference and drank more ethanol g/kg than High LG animals. These effects were particularly driven by females. Animals of both phenotypes decreased ethanol consumption following an acute estrogen treatment. Downregulation of D2R was found in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), but not the nucleus accumbens or dorsal striatum, of Low LG rats, with no differences due to sex. Hippocampal D2R expression is implicated in several neurological functions, and the hippocampus experiences neuronal loss following binge alcohol exposure. The current study aimed to expand our knowledge by using western blotting to examine D2R expression in the ventral hippocampus (vHPC) of control and estrogen-treated High and Low LG male and female rats. We expect to report results similar to those found previously in the VTA and find lower levels of D2R expression in Low LG rats with no significant sex difference.



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Effects of Maternal Care and Estrogen Treatment on Dopamine Receptor D2 Expression in the Ventral Hippocampus of Male and Female Long Evans Rats