Binge pattern ethanol exposure in adolescent and adult rats: differential impact on subsequent responsiveness to ethanol.
BACKGROUND: Recent evidence indicates that adolescent animals are more sensitive than adults to the disruptive effects of acute ethanol exposure on spatial learning. It is not yet known whether adolescent animals are also more sensitive than adults to the enduring neurobehavioral effects of repeated ethanol exposure. In this study, animals were exposed to ethanol in a binge-pattern during either adolescence or adulthood. At a time when all subjects were adults, spatial working memory was examined in the absence and presence of an acute ethanol challenge. METHODS: Rats were exposed to ethanol (5.0 g/kg intraperitoneally) or isovolumetric saline at 48 hr intervals over 20 days. Exposure began on either postnatal day 30 (adolescent group) or 70 (adult group). Twenty days after the final injection, a time at which all animals were adults, the subjects were tested on an elevated plus maze and then were trained to perform a spatial working memory task on an eight-arm radial maze. At the beginning of each session of training on the working memory task, subjects retrieved food rewards on four of the eight arms. After a delay, subjects were placed on the maze and allowed to retrieve food from the remaining four arms. RESULTS: Prior exposure to ethanol did not influence behavior on the plus maze. Performance of the groups did not differ during acquisition of the spatial working memory task with a 5 min delay or during subsequent testing with a 1 hr delay. However, animals treated with ethanol during adolescence exhibited larger working memory impairments during an ethanol challenge (1.5 g/kg intraperitoneally) than subjects in the other three groups. CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate that binge pattern exposure to ethanol during adolescence enhances responsiveness to the memory-impairing effects of ethanol in adulthood.
White, AM; Ghia, AJ; Levin, ED; Swartzwelder, HS
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