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Monday, April 23, 2012

The negative effects of alcohol hangover on high-anxiety phenotype rats are influenced by the glutamate receptors of the dorsal midbrain

Alcoholism is a chronic disorder characterized by the appearance of a withdrawal syndrome following the abrupt cessation of alcohol intake that includes symptoms of physical and emotional disturbances being anxiety is the most prevalent symptom. In humans, it was showed that anxiety may increase the probability of relapse.

In laboratory animals, however, the use of anxiety to predict alcohol preference has remained difficult. Excitatory amino acids as glutamate have been implicated in alcohol hangover and may be responsible for the seizures and anxiety observed during withdrawal.

The dorsal periaqueductal gray (DPAG) is a midbrain region critical for the modulation/expression of anxiety- and fear-related behaviors and the propagation of seizures induced by alcohol withdrawal, being the glutamate neurotransmission one of the most affected.

The present study was designed to evaluate whether low- (LA) and high-anxiety rats (HA), tested during the alcohol hangover phase, in which anxiety is the most prevalent symptom, are more sensitive to the reinforcing effects of alcohol when tested in a voluntary alcohol drinking procedure.

Additionally, we were interested in investigate the main effects of reducing the excitatory tonus of the dorsal midbrain, after the blockade of the ionotropic glutamate receptors into the DPAG, on the voluntary alcohol intake of HA and LA motivated rats that were made previously experienced with the free operant response of alcohol drinking.

For this purpose, we used local infusions of the NMDA and AMPA-kainate receptors antagonist DL-2-Amino-7-phosphonoheptanoic acid - DL-AP7 (10 nmol/0.2 μl) and l-glutamic acid diethyl ester – GDEE (160 nmol/0.2 μl), respectively. Alcohol intoxication was produced by ten daily bolus intraperitonial (IP) injections of alcohol (2.0 g/kg). Peak-blood alcohol levels were determined by gas-chromatography analysis in order to assess blood alcohol content. Unconditioned and conditioned anxiety-like behavior was assessed by the use of the fear-potentiated startle procedure (FPS).

Data collected showed that anxiety and alcohol drinking in HA animals are positively correlated in animals that were made previously familiarized with the anxiolytic effects of alcohol.

In addition, anxiety-like behavior induced during alcohol hangover seems to be an effect of changes in glutamatergic neurotransmission into DPAG possibly involving AMPA/kainate and NMDA receptors, among others.

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