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Monday, January 2, 2012

Chronic ethanol exposure during adolescence alters the behavioral responsiveness to ethanol in adult mice

Alcohol exposure during early adolescence is believed to durably alter the behavioral properties of ethanol, increasing the likelihood of later alcohol-related disorders.

The aim of the present experiments was to characterize changes in the behavioral effects of ethanol in adult female Swiss mice after a chronic ethanol exposure during adolescence, extending from postnatal day 28 to postnatal day 42.

After a chronic ethanol exposure during adolescence (daily injections of 0, 2.5 or 4 g/kg ethanol for 14 consecutive days), adult mice were tested at postnatal day 63. The locomotor stimulant effects of ethanol, together with ethanol sensitization were tested in experiment 1. In experiment 2, the sedative effects of ethanol were assessed with the loss of righting reflex procedure. Finally, in experiment 3, the anxiolytic effects of ethanol were tested with the light/dark box test.

Adult mice chronically exposed to ethanol during adolescence showed a lower basal locomotor activity, but higher locomotor stimulant effects of ethanol than non-exposed mice. Additionally, these adult mice developed higher rates of ethanol sensitization after chronic re-exposure to ethanol in adulthood.

Adult mice exposed to ethanol during adolescence also had a stronger tolerance to the sedative effects of high ethanol doses, although they showed no evidence of changes in the anxiolytic effects of ethanol.

These results are in agreement with the thesis that chronic alcohol consumption during adolescence, especially in high amounts, increases the risk of later alcohol-related disorders.

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