Single Cell Scale Neuronal and Glial Gene Expression and Putative Cell Phenotypes and Networks in the Nucleus Tractus Solitarius in an Alcohol Withdrawal Time Series.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Front Syst Neurosci


washington; seattle; isb


Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is characterized by neuronal hyperexcitability, autonomic dysregulation, and severe negative emotion. The nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) likely plays a prominent role in the neurological processes underlying these symptoms as it is the main viscerosensory nucleus in the brain. The NTS receives visceral interoceptive inputs, influences autonomic outputs, and has strong connections to the limbic system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to maintain homeostasis. Our prior analysis of single neuronal gene expression data from the NTS shows that neurons exist in heterogeneous transcriptional states that form distinct functional subphenotypes. Our working model conjectures that the allostasis secondary to alcohol dependence causes peripheral and central biological network decompensation in acute abstinence resulting in neurovisceral feedback to the NTS that substantially contributes to the observed AWS. We collected single noradrenergic and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) neurons and microglia from rat NTS and measured a subset of their transcriptome as pooled samples in an alcohol withdrawal time series. Inflammatory subphenotypes predominate at certain time points, and GLP-1 subphenotypes demonstrated hyperexcitability post-withdrawal. We hypothesize such inflammatory and anxiogenic signaling contributes to alcohol dependence via negative reinforcement. Targets to mitigate such dysregulation and treat dependence can be identified from this dataset.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)


Institute for Systems Biology