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Monday, April 8, 2013

Chronic tolerance to ethanol-induced sedation: Implication for age-related differences in locomotor sensitization


The adolescent brain has been suggested to be particularly sensitive to ethanol-induced neuroadaptations, which in turn could increase the risk of youths for alcohol abuse and dependence. Sensitization to the locomotor stimulant effects of ethanol has often been used as an animal model of ethanol-induced neuroadaptations.

Previously, we showed that young mice were more sensitive than adults to the locomotor sensitization induced by high ethanol doses. However, this effect could be due to age-related differences in chronic tolerance to the sedative effects of ethanol.
The aim of the present study is to assess chronic tolerance to the sedative effects of ethanol in weaning 21-day-old (P21), adolescent 35-day-old (P35) and adult 63-day-old (P63) female Swiss mice. After a daily injection of saline or 4 g/kg ethanol during 6 consecutive days, all P21, P35 and P63 mice were injected with 4 g/kg ethanol and submitted to the loss of righting reflex procedure.

Our results confirm that the sensitivity to the acute sedative effects of ethanol gradually increases with age. Although this schedule of ethanol injections induces significant age-related differences in ethanol sensitization, it did not reveal significant differences between P21, P35 and P63 mice in the development of a chronic ethanol tolerance to its sedative effects.
The present results show that age-related differences in the development of ethanol sensitization cannot be explained by differences in chronic ethanol tolerance to its sedative effects. More broadly, they do not support the idea that ethanol-induced sensitization is a by-product of chronic ethanol tolerance.

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