Cognitive deficits and CNS damage after a 4-day binge ethanol exposure in rats.
Impairments of learning and memory are common neuropsychological sequelae of chronic alcohol abuse. Alcoholics often have impairments of anterograde memory, including spatial memory dysfunction, and a tendency toward response perseveration. This study was designed to assess the effects of binge ethanol exposure on neurodegeneration and cognitive function. Rats were given ethanol three times daily for 4 days. Silver staining revealed neurodegeneration in the olfactory bulb, piriform cortex, perirhinal cortex, entorhinal cortex, and dentate gyrus. After withdrawal, behavioral testing in the Morris water maze revealed significant differences in reversal learning between treatment groups. Ethanol-treated animals required more trials to learn the reversal task, entered the previously trained quadrant more often, and spent more time there than controls. [3H]PK-11195 binding, an index of CNS damage, was elevated in the piriform cortex of ethanol-treated animals. Thus, binge ethanol exposure resulted in neurodegeneration of a corticolimbic circuit with common excitatory inputs from the olfactory bulb and was associated with perseverative responding on a spatial learning task. These studies suggest that a single binge drinking episode could cause neurodegeneration and cognitive dysfunction in humans. The perseverative nature of the behavioral deficit could be related to both cognitive dysfunction and the behavioral components of the addiction process.
Obernier, JA; White, AM; Swartzwelder, HS; Crews, FT
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