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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Differential Hippocampal Response to Chronic Alcohol Consumption of Young Adult and Mature Adult Rats

Early ethanol consumption could be a risk factor for young brain integrity and its maturation, and also for the development of addictive behaviors in adulthood. Neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) expressing neurons are specifically located in the subgranular layer (SGL) of dentate gyrus and may be relevant for hippocampal neurogenesis. The focus of this work is aimed to determine local changes in the nNOS-like immunoreactive (nNOS-LIR) cell populations of the SGL after chronic ethanol exposure in young adult and mature adult rats.

We used the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-diaphorase (NADPH-d) reaction as a qualitative marker of nNOS enzyme activity. We also analyzed the nNOS-LIR cell density by the nNOS immunocytochemistry in order to compare these two methods of labeling. Dorsal striatum (CPu) was also analyzed in order to compare two neural areas with high nNOS-LIR cell density.

The young adult group showed less hippocampal NADPH-d+ cell density than the mature adult group. Interestingly, the NADPH-d+ cell density was increased in the SGL of the young adult ethanol-treated group, whereas it decreased in the mature adult ethanol-treated group, when compared with their respective controls. No change was observed in any of the groups for the hippocampal nNOS-LIR cell density and no differences could be established in CPu for nNOS-LIR and NADPH-d+ cell densities in any of the groups studied.

The NADPH-d expression is affected by chronic ethanol exposure in opposite ways between both age groups studied. Further studies are needed to evaluate the relative importance of these findings, especially when considering human subjects.

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