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1.  Withdrawal from chronic intermittent alcohol exposure increases dendritic spine density in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex of mice 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2014;49(1):21-27.
Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are associated with functional and morphological changes in subfields of the prefrontal cortex. Clinical and preclinical evidence indicates that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is critical for controlling impulsive behaviors, representing the value of a predicted outcome, and reversing learned associations. Individuals with AUDs often demonstrate deficits in OFC-dependent tasks and rodent models of alcohol exposure show that OFC-dependent behaviors are impaired by chronic alcohol exposure. To explore the mechanisms that underlie these impairments, we examined dendritic spine density and morphology, and NMDA-type glutamate receptor expression in the lateral OFC of C57BL/6J mice following chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) exposure. Western blot analysis demonstrated that NMDA receptors were not altered immediately following CIE exposure or after 7 days of withdrawal. Morphological analysis of basal dendrites of layer II/III pyramidal neurons revealed that dendritic spine density was also not affected immediately after CIE exposure. However, the total density of dendritic spines was significantly increased after a 7 day withdrawal from CIE exposure. The effect of withdrawal on spine density was mediated by an increase in the density of long, thin spines with no change in either stubby or mushroom spines. These data suggest that morphological neuroadaptations in lateral OFC neurons develop during alcohol withdrawal and occur in the absence of changes in the expression of NMDA-type glutamate receptors. The enhanced spine density that follows alcohol withdrawal may contribute to the impairments in OFC-dependent behaviors observed in CIE treated mice.
PMCID: PMC4314373  PMID: 25468278
Chronic intermittent ethanol exposure; dendritic spines; lateral OFC; structural plasticity; NMDA receptors
2.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3902470  PMID: 24355072
3.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3923188  PMID: 24447472
4.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3943171  PMID: 24398347
5.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3946935  PMID: 24355071
6.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC4077280  PMID: 24387902
7.  Effects of Alcohol and Saccharin Deprivations on Concurrent Ethanol and Saccharin Operant Self-Administration by Alcohol-Preferring (P) Rats 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2008;42(4):277-284.
Consumption of sweet solutions has been associated with a reduction in withdrawal symptoms and alcohol craving in humans. The objective of the present study was to determine the effects of EtOH and saccharin (SACC) deprivations on operant oral self-administration. P rats were allowed to lever press concurrently self-administer EtOH (15% v/v) and SACC (0.0125% g/v) for 8 weeks. Rats were then maintained on daily operant access (non-deprived), deprived of both fluids (2 weeks), deprived of SACC and given 2 ml of EtOH daily, or deprived of EtOH and given 2 ml of SACC daily. All groups were then given two weeks of daily operant access to EtOH and SACC, followed by an identical second deprivation period. P rats responded more for EtOH than SACC. All deprived groups increased responding on the EtOH lever, but not on the SACC lever. Daily consumption of 2 ml EtOH decreased the duration of the ADE. Home cage access to 2 ml SACC also decreased the ADE but to a lesser extent than access to EtOH. A second deprivation period further increased and prolonged the expression of an ADE. These results show EtOH is a more salient reinforcer than SACC. With concurrent access to EtOH and SACC, P rats do not display a saccharin deprivation effect. Depriving P rats of both EtOH and SACC had the most pronounced effect on the magnitude and duration of the ADE, suggesting that there may be some interactions between EtOH and SACC in their CNS reinforcing effects.
PMCID: PMC4280856  PMID: 18400451
Alcohol deprivation effect; operant self-administration; alcohol-preferring P rats; repeated deprivations; Saccharin self-administration
8.  Toll-like receptor 4 (Tlr4) knockout rats produced by transcriptional activator-like effector nuclease- (TALEN)-mediated gene inactivation 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(8):10.1016/j.alcohol.2013.09.043.
Genetically engineered mice are a valuable resource for studies of the behavioral effects of ethanol. However, for some behavioral tests of ethanol action, the rat is a superior model organism. Production of genetically engineered rats has been severely hampered due to technical limitations. Here we utilized a promising new technique for efficient site-specific gene modification to create a novel gene knockout rat line. This approach is based on Transcriptional Activator-Like Effector Nucleases (TALENs). TALENs function in pairs and bind DNA in a sequence-specific manner. Upon binding to the target sequence, a functional nuclease is reconstituted that creates double-stranded breaks in the DNA that are efficiently repaired by non-homologous end joining. This error-prone process often results in deletions of varying lengths at the targeted locus. The toll-like receptor 4 (Tlr4) gene was selected for TALEN-mediated gene inactivation. Tlr4 has been implicated in ethanol-induced neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration, as well as multiple ethanol-induced behavioral effects. To generate Tlr4 knockout rats, a pair of TALEN constructs was created that specifically target Exon 1 immediately downstream of the start of translation. TALEN mRNAs were microinjected into the cytoplasm of one-cell Wistar rat embryos. Of 13 live-born pups that resulted, one harbored a mutation in Exon 1 of Tlr4. The mutated allele consisted of a 13 base-pair deletion that was predicted to create a frameshift mutation after amino acid 25. This founder rat successfully transmitted the mutation to F1 offspring. Heterozygous F1 offspring were interbred to produce homozygous F2 animals. Homozygous mutants expressed the 13-bp deletion in Tlr4 mRNA. In contrast to control rats that produced a robust increase in plasma tumor necrosis factor alpha in response to a lipopolysaccharide challenge, homozygous rats had a markedly attenuated response. Thus, the mutant Tlr4 allele generated by TALEN-mediated gene inactivation represents a null allele. This knockout rat line will be valuable for studies of ethanol action as well as more general inflammatory conditions including septic shock. In conclusion, TALEN-mediated gene targeting in rat zygotes represents an inexpensive, efficient, and rapid method for creating genetically engineered rats.
PMCID: PMC3844088  PMID: 24199847
gene targeted rats; toll-like receptor 4 (Tlr4); transcriptional activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN); knockout rats; genome editing
9.  Dietary antioxidants prevent alcohol-induced ciliary dysfunction 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(8):10.1016/j.alcohol.2013.09.004.
Previously we have shown that chronic alcohol intake causes alcohol-induced ciliary dysfunction (AICD), leading to non-responsive airway cilia. AICD likely occurs through the downregulation of nitric oxide (NO) and cyclic nucleotide-dependent kinases, protein kinase G (PKG) and protein kinase A (PKA). Studies by others have shown that dietary supplementation with the antioxidants N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and procysteine prevent other alcohol-induced lung complications. This led us to hypothesize that dietary supplementation with NAC or procysteine prevents AICD. To test this hypothesis, C57BL/6 mice drank an alcohol/water solution (20% w/v) ad libitum for 6 weeks and were concurrently fed dietary supplements of either NAC or procysteine. Ciliary beat frequency (CBF) was measured in mice tracheas, and PKG/PKA responsiveness to β-agonists and NOx levels were measured from bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid. Long-term alcohol drinking reduced CBF, PKG and PKA responsiveness to β-agonists, and lung NOx levels in BAL fluid. In contrast, alcohol-drinking mice fed NAC or procysteine sustained ciliary function and PKG and PKA responsiveness to β-agonists. However, BAL NO levels remained low despite antioxidant supplementation. We also determined that removal of alcohol from the drinking water for as little as 1 week restored ciliary function, but not PKG and PKA responsiveness to β-agonists. We conclude that dietary supplementation with NAC or procysteine protects against AICD. In addition, alcohol removal for 1 week restores cilia function independent of PKG and PKA activity. Our findings provide a rationale for the use of antioxidants to prevent damage to airway mucociliary functions in chronic alcohol-drinking individuals.
PMCID: PMC3850762  PMID: 24169090
alcohol; ciliary dysfunction; nitric oxide; PKA; PKG; N-acetylcysteine; procysteine; ciliary beat frequency
10.  A report on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group meeting of 2012, Theme title, “Biomarkers for FASD” 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(8):10.1016/j.alcohol.2013.09.042.
The 2012 meeting of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group (FASDSG) focused on the development and ethics of biomarkers for fetal alcohol exposure. This one-day international conference brought students and trainees together with clinicians and researchers to discuss the latest research on FASD. One keynote speaker discussed the value of profiling epigenetic modifications in readily available fetal tissues to diagnose fetal exposure to environmental agents, while the second speaker discussed the ethics of biomarker development within the context of core principles of justice, autonomy, beneficence and non-maleficence. Three sessions of short data talks informed the audience of research advances with particular emphasis on the diagnosis of FASD. Other activities included updates on FASD-related activities by representatives of government agencies, a report on the implementation FASD-related diagnostic criteria in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association and a networking lunch, and the presentation of the “Merit Award” to Dr. Nathan Muraski for his work on behavioural outcomes of fetal alcohol exposure. The capstone of the meeting was the presentation of the “Henri Rosett” award to Dr. Denis Viljoen, in recognition of his role in raising awareness about the incidence of FASD in South Africa and in promoting FASD prevention and treatment programs as chairperson and chief executive officer of the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR).
PMCID: PMC3868338  PMID: 24183101
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder; epigenetics; biomarker; ethics; Rosett Award
11.  Developmental differences in EEG and sleep responses to acute ethanol administration and its withdrawal (hangover) in adolescent and adult Wistar rats 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(8):601-610.
Age-related differences in sensitivity to the acute effects of alcohol may play an important role in the increased risk for the development of alcoholism seen in teens that begin drinking at an early age. The present study evaluated the acute and protracted (hangover) effects of ethanol in adolescent (P33–P40) and adult (P100–P107) Wistar rats, using the cortical electroencephalogram (EEG). Six minutes of EEG was recorded during waking, 15 min after administration of 0, 1.5, or 3.0 g/kg ethanol, and for 3 h at 20 h post ethanol, during the rats’ next sleep cycle. Significantly higher overall frontal and parietal cortical power was seen in a wide range of EEG frequencies in adolescent rats as compared to adult rats in their waking EEG. Acute administration of ethanol did not produce differences between adolescents and adults on behavioral measures of acute intoxication. However, it did produce a significantly less intense acute EEG response to ethanol in the theta frequencies in parietal cortex in the adolescents as compared to the adults. At 20 h following acute ethanol administration, during the rats’ next sleep cycle, a decrease in slow-wave frequencies (1–4 Hz) was seen and the adolescent rats were found to display more reduction in the slow-wave frequencies than the adults did. The present study found that adolescent rats, as compared to adults, demonstrate low sensitivity to acute ethanol administration in the theta frequencies and more susceptibility to disruption of slow-wave sleep during hangover. These studies may lend support to the idea that these traits may contribute to increased risk for alcohol use disorders seen in adults who begin drinking in their early teenage years.
PMCID: PMC3896376  PMID: 24169089
Adolescence; Alcohol; EEG; Alcoholism; Slow-wave sleep; Hangover
12.  Alcohol and immunology: Summary of the 2012 Alcohol and Immunology Research Interest Group (AIRIG) meeting 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(8):589-593.
On October 27, 2012, the 17th annual Alcohol and Immunology Research Interest Group (AIRIG) meeting was held at the Grand Wailea Hotel in Maui, Hawaii as a satellite meeting to the 2012 Society of Leukocyte Biology conference. This year’s meeting focused on the influence of alcohol on signal transduction pathways in various disease and injury models. Three plenary sessions were held where invited speakers shared their research on alcohol-mediated alterations of cell signaling components, immune cell subsets, and inflammation. These studies suggested alcohol has a negative effect on cell signaling machinery and immune cell homeostasis, resulting in disease, disease progression, and increased mortality. Researchers also identified tissue-specific alcohol-linked elevations in markers of inflammation, including cold-shock proteins and microRNAs. Additionally, one study revealed the effects of alcohol on immune cell subsets in a model of allergic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3969826  PMID: 24169087
Ethanol; Binge drinking; Inflammation; Leukocytes; Disease; Injury
13.  Ethanol impairs microtubule formation via interactions at a microtubule associated protein-sensitive site 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(7):539-543.
Prolonged ethanol abuse has been associated with brain injury caused by impaired synaptogenesis, cellular migration, neurogenesis, and cell signaling, all of which require proper microtubule functioning. However, the means by which ethanol may impair microtubule formation or function and the role that microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) have in mediating such effects are not clear. In the present studies, purified MAP-deficient (2 mg/mL) and MAP-rich (pre-conjugated; 1 mg/mL) bovine α/β tubulin dimer were allowed to polymerize at 37 °C, forming microtubules in the presence or absence of ethanol (25–500 mM). Microtubule formation was assessed in a 96-well format using a turbidity assay, with absorption measured at 340 nm for 45 min. Additional studies co-exposed α/β tubulin dimers to 50 mM ethanol and purified MAPs (0.1 mg/mL) for 45 min. Polymerization of MAP-deficient tubulin was significantly decreased (at 15–45 min of polymerization) during exposure to ethanol (> 25 mM). In contrast, ethanol exposure did not alter polymerization of α/β tubulin dimers pre-conjugated to MAPs, at any concentration. Concurrent exposure of MAP-deficient tubulin with purified MAPs and ethanol resulted in significant and time-dependent decreases in tubulin polymerization, with recovery from inhibition at later time points. The present results suggest that ethanol disrupts MAP-independent microtubule formation and MAP-dependent microtubule formation via direct actions at a MAP-sensitive microtubule residue, indicating that disruption of neuronal microtubule formation and function may contribute to the neurodegenerative effects of binge-like ethanol intake.
PMCID: PMC4220549  PMID: 24055335
tubulin; polymerization; alcoholism; neuronal injury
14.  Stress-response pathways are altered in the hippocampus of chronic alcoholics 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(7):10.1016/j.alcohol.2013.07.002.
The chronic high-level alcohol consumption seen in alcoholism leads to dramatic effects on the hippocampus, including decreased white matter, loss of oligodendrocytes and other glial cells, and inhibition of neurogenesis. Examining gene expression in post mortem hippocampal tissue from 20 alcoholics and 19 controls allowed us to detect differentially expressed genes that may play a role in the risk for alcoholism or whose expression is modified by chronic consumption of alcohol. We identified 639 named genes whose expression significantly differed between alcoholics and controls at a False Discovery Rate (FDR) ≤ 0.20; 52% of these genes differed by at least 1.2-fold. Differentially expressed genes included the glucocorticoid receptor and the related gene FK506 binding protein 5 (FKBP5), UDP glycosyltransferase 8 (UGT8), urea transporter (SLC14A1), zinc transporter (SLC39A10), Interleukin 1 receptor type 1 (IL1R1), thioredoxin interacting protein (TXNIP), and many metallothioneins. Pathways related to inflammation, hypoxia, and stress showed activation, and pathways that play roles in neurogenesis and myelination showed decreases. The cortisol pathway dysregulation and increased inflammation identified here are seen in other stress-related conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and most likely play a role in addiction. Many of the detrimental effects on the hippocampus appear to be mediated through NF-κB signaling. Twenty-four of the differentially regulated genes were previously identified by genome-wide association studies of alcohol use disorders; this raises the potential interest of genes not normally associated with alcoholism, such as suppression of tumorigenicity 18 (ST18), BCL2-associated athanogene 3 (BAG3), and von Willebrand factor (VWF).
PMCID: PMC3836826  PMID: 23981442
alcoholism; stress; inflammation; cortisol; hippocampus; gene expression; GWAS; NF-κ
15.  Developmental Changes in the Acute Ethanol Sensitivity of Glutamatergic and GABAergic Transmission in the BNST 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(7):10.1016/j.alcohol.2013.08.003.
Glutamatergic and GABAergic transmission undergo significant changes during adolescence. Receptors for both of these transmitters (N-methyl-D-aspartate, NMDAR, and GABAA) are known to be key targets for the acute effects of ethanol in adults. The current study set out to investigate the acute effects of ethanol on both NMDAR-mediated excitatory transmission and GABAergic inhibitory transmission within the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) across age. The BNST is an area of the brain implicated in the negative reinforcing properties associated with alcohol dependence, and the BNST plays a critical role in stress-induced relapse. Therefore, assessing the developmental regulation of ethanol sensitivity in this key brain region is important to understanding the progression of ethanol dependence. To do this, whole-cell recordings of isolated NMDAR-evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (eEPSCs) or evoked GABAergic inhibitory postsynaptic currents (eIPSCs) were performed on BNST neurons in slices from 4- or 8-week-old male C57BL/6J mice. Ethanol (50 mm) produced greater inhibition of NMDAR-eEPSCs in adolescent mice than in adult mice. This enhanced sensitivity in adolescence was not a result of shifts in function of the B subunit of NMDARs (GluN2B), measured by Ro25-6981 inhibition and decay kinetics measured across age. Adolescent mice also exhibited greater ethanol sensitivity of GABAergic transmission, as ethanol (50 mm) enhanced eIPSCs in the BNST of adolescent but not adult mice. Collectively, this work illustrates that a moderate dose of ethanol produces greater inhibition of transmission in the BNST (through greater excitatory inhibition and enhancement of inhibitory transmission) in adolescents compared to adults. Given the role of the BNST in alcohol dependence, these developmental changes in acute ethanol sensitivity could accelerate neuroadaptations that result from chronic ethanol use during the critical period of adolescence.
PMCID: PMC3836369  PMID: 24103431
adolescent; NMDA receptor; bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST); GABA; GluN2B
16.  Gene Expression within the Extended Amygdala of 5 Pairs of Rat Lines Selectively Bred for High or Low Ethanol Consumption 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(7):10.1016/j.alcohol.2013.08.004.
The objectives of this study were to determine innate differences in gene expression in 2 regions of the extended amygdala between 5 different pairs of lines of male rats selectively bred for high or low ethanol consumption: a) alcohol-preferring (P) vs. alcohol-non-preferring (NP) rats, b) high-alcohol-drinking (HAD) vs. low-alcohol-drinking (LAD) rats (replicate line-pairs 1 and 2), c) ALKO alcohol (AA) vs. nonalcohol (ANA) rats, and d) Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) vs. Sardinian alcohol-nonpreferring (sNP) rats, and then to determine if these differences are common across the line-pairs. Microarray analysis revealed up to 1,772 unique named genes in the nucleus accumbens shell (AcbSh) and 494 unique named genes in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) that significantly differed [False Discovery Rate (FDR) = 0.10; fold-change at least 1.2] in expression between the individual line-pairs. Analysis using Gene Ontology (GO) and Ingenuity Pathways information indicated significant categories and networks in common for up to 3 or 4 line-pairs, but not for all 5 line-pairs. However, there were almost no individual genes in common within these categories and networks. ANOVAs of the combined data for the 5 line-pairs indicated 1,014 and 731 significant (p < 0.01) differences in expression of named genes in the AcbSh and CeA, respectively. There were 4–6 individual named genes that significantly differed across up to 3 line-pairs in both regions; only 1 gene (Gsta4 in the CeA) differed in as many as 4 line-pairs. Overall, the findings suggest that a) some biological categories or networks (e.g., cell-to-cell signaling, cellular stress response, cellular organization, etc.) may be in common for subsets of line-pairs within either the AcbSh or CeA, and b) regulation of different genes and/or combinations of multiple biological systems may be contributing to the disparate alcohol drinking behaviors of these line-pairs.
PMCID: PMC3866700  PMID: 24157127
gene expression; nucleus accumbens; central nucleus of the amygdala; selectively bred rat lines; alcohol-preferring; Alko alcohol; high-alcohol-drinking; Sardinian alcohol-preferring
17.  Alcohol during adolescence selectively alters immediate and long-term behavior and neurochemistry 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2010;44(1):57-66.
Alcohol use increases across adolescence and is a concern in the United States. In humans, males and females consume different amounts of alcohol depending on the age of initiation and the long-term consequences of early ethanol consumption are not readily understood. The purpose of our work is to better understand the immediate and long-term impact of ethanol exposure during adolescence and the effects it can have on behavior and dopaminergic responsivity. We have assessed sex differences in voluntary ethanol consumption during adolescence and adulthood and the influence of binge ethanol exposure during adolescence. We have observed that males are sensitive to passive social influences that mediate voluntary ethanol consumption and early ethanol exposure induces long-term changes in responsivity to ethanol in adulthood. Exposure to moderate doses of ethanol during adolescence produced alterations in dopamine (DA) in the nucleus accumbens septi (NAcc) during adolescence and later in adulthood. Taken together, all of these data indicate the adolescent brain is sensitive to the impact of early ethanol exposure during this critical developmental period.
PMCID: PMC4199380  PMID: 20113874
Adolescence; alcohol; sex differences; voluntary alcohol intake; social interaction; dopamine; neurochemistry
18.  Association of genetic copy number variations at 11 q14.2 with brain regional volume differences in an alcohol use disorder population 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2012;46(6):519-527.
This study investigates the relationship between genetic copy number variations and brain volume differences in an alcohol use disorder (AUD) population. We hypothesized that copy number variations may influence subject’s risk for alcohol use disorders through variations in regional gray and white matter brain volumes. Since genetic influences upon behavior are the result of many complicated interactions we focus on differences in brain volume as a putative intermediate phenotype between genetic variation and behavior. Copy number variation, alcohol use assessments and brain structural magnetic resonance images from 283 subjects, 199 male and 84 females who were enrolled in two AUD studies were obtained and analyzed using a combination of the Freesurfer image analysis suite and independent component analysis. Because brain volume varies by age we compared participant’s volume variation with that derived from a control cohort of 75 subjects. In addition we also regressed out the possible brain volume changes induced by long term alcohol consumption. Small cerebral cortex, cerebellar and caudate along with large cerebral white matter and 5th ventricle volumes are shown to be significantly associated with increased AUD severity. When these volume variations are compared with control subject volumes; the variations seen in subjects with AUD are markedly different from normal aging effects. CNVs at 11 q14.2 are marginally (p < 0.05 uncorrected) correlated with such brain volume variations and the correlation holds true after controlling for long-term alcohol consumption; deletion carriers have smaller cerebral cortex, cerebellar, caudate and larger cerebral white matter and 5th ventricle volumes than insertion carriers or subjects with no variation in this region. Similarly, deletion carriers also demonstrate higher AUD severity scores than insertion carriers or subjects with no variation. The results presented here suggest that copy number variation and in particular the variation at chromosome 11 q14.2 may have an impact in brain volume variation, potentially influencing AUD behavior.
PMCID: PMC4196895  PMID: 22732324
Copy number variations; Structural MRI; Genetics; Alcohol dependence
19.  Effects of a low dose of ethanol in an animal model of premenstrual anxiety 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2004;33(1):41-49.
Low (1 mM), but not 10 mM, concentrations of ethanol selectively potentiate current gated by α4β2δ subunit combinations of the gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptor, a subtype increased in hippocampus after withdrawal from progesterone in a rodent model of premenstrual anxiety. In the current study, we tested the hypothesis that the anxiolytic effect of ethanol would exhibit a similar dose-response effect by using the acoustic startle response (ASR) and elevated plus-maze as behavioral models. To this end, adult, female rats were tested (1) 24 h after removal of a progesterone-filled capsule implanted subcutaneously for 21 days (progesterone withdrawal) or (2) on the day of diestrus, a low hormone state. Low doses of ethanol (0.2–0.4 mg/kg) produced a significant 60%–70% decrease in the ASR only in animals undergoing progesterone withdrawal. However, higher doses of ethanol (0.8–1.2 g/kg) were ineffective in these animals, resulting in an “inverted U” ethanol dose effect similar to that observed at recombinant α4β2δ subunit combinations of the GABAA receptor. Consistent with these findings, significant 70% attenuation of the ASR was also achieved after progesterone withdrawal with 3 mg/kg of 4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisoxazolo[5,4-c]pyridin-3-ol (THIP), a GABAA receptor partial agonist with greater potency at α4βδ receptors than at other known isoforms. In contrast, this partial agonist was not anxiolytic in control animals. These results support the suggestion that very low doses of ethanol are anxiolytic in a model of premenstrual anxiety, whereas higher, potentially sedative, doses are without effect. The results may be relevant for altered ethanol sensitivity during premenstrual syndrome, when increased ethanol consumption has been reported.
PMCID: PMC4168969  PMID: 15353172
Ethanol; Progesterone; Allopregnanolone; Withdrawal; Acoustic startle response; Elevated plus maze; Hippocampus; Alpha-4; Delta; GABAA receptor; GABA; Premenstrual syndrome; PMS; Steroid
20.  Neonatal ethanol exposure results in dose-dependent impairments in the acquisition and timing of the conditioned eyeblink response and altered cerebellar interpositus nucleus and hippocampal CA1 unit activity in adult rats 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(6):447-457.
Exposure to ethanol in neonatal rats results in reduced neuronal numbers in the cerebellar cortex and deep nuclei of juvenile and adult animals. This reduction in cell numbers is correlated with impaired delay eyeblink conditioning (EBC), a simple motor learning task in which a neutral conditioned stimulus (CS; tone) is repeatedly paired with a co-terminating unconditioned stimulus (US; periorbital shock). Across training, cell populations in the interpositus (IP) nucleus model the temporal form of the eyeblink conditioned response (CR). The hippocampus, though not required for delay EBC, also shows learning-dependent increases in CA1 and CA3 unit activity. In the present study, rat pups were exposed to 0, 3, 4, or 5 mg/kg/day of ethanol during postnatal days (PD) 4–9. As adults, CR acquisition and timing were assessed during 6 training sessions of delay EBC with a short (280 msec) interstimulus interval (ISI; time from CS onset to US onset) followed by another 6 sessions with a long (880 msec) ISI. Neuronal activity was recorded in the IP and area CA1 during all 12 sessions. The high-dose rats learned the most slowly and, with the moderate-dose rats, produced the longest CR peak latencies over training to the short ISI. The low dose of alcohol impaired CR performance to the long ISI only. The 3E (3 mg/kg/day of ethanol) and 5E (5 mg/kg/day of ethanol) rats also showed slower-than-normal increases in learning-dependent excitatory unit activity in the IP and CA1. The 4E (4 mg/kg/day of ethanol) rats showed a higher rate of CR production to the long ISI and enhanced IP and CA1 activation when compared to the 3E and 5E rats. The results indicate that binge-like ethanol exposure in neonatal rats induces long-lasting, dose-dependent deficits in CR acquisition and timing and diminishes conditioning-related neuronal excitation in both the cerebellum and hippocampus.
PMCID: PMC3751167  PMID: 23871534
fetal alcohol syndrome disorders; eyeblink conditioning; postnatal ethanol; cerebellum; hippocampus
21.  Ethanol Drinking in Withdrawal Seizure-Prone and -Resistant Selected Mouse Lines 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(5):381-389.
Withdrawal Seizure-Prone (WSP) and Withdrawal Seizure-Resistant (WSR) mouse lines were bidirectionally selectively bred, respectively, to have severe or mild ethanol withdrawal handling-induced convulsions (HICs) after cessation of 3 days of ethanol vapor inhalation. Murine genotypes with severe withdrawal have been found to show low ethanol consumption, and high consumers show low withdrawal. An early drinking study with WSP and WSR mice showed modest evidence consistent with this genetic correlation, but there were several limitations to that experiment. We therefore conducted a thorough assessment of two-bottle ethanol preference drinking in both replicate pairs of WSP/WSR selected lines in mice of both sexes. Greater preference drinking of WSR-2 than WSP-2 female mice confirmed the earlier report. However, in the parallel set of selected lines, the WSP-1 mice drank more than the WSR-1s. Naive mice tested for preference for sucrose, saccharin and quinine did not differ markedly for any tastant. Finally, in a test of binge-like drinking, Drinking in the Dark (DID), WSP mice drank more than WSR mice and attained significantly higher (but still modest) blood ethanol concentrations. Tests of acute withdrawal showed a mild, but significant elevation in handling induced convulsions in the WSP line. These results provide further evidence that 2-bottle ethanol preference and DID are genetically distinguishable traits.
PMCID: PMC3770535  PMID: 23809872
ethanol withdrawal; selective breeding; ethanol preference; drinking in the dark; mouse; genetics
22.  Nicotine enhances ethanol-induced fat accumulation and collagen deposition but not inflammation in mouse liver 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(5):353-357.
Alcohol and tobacco are frequently co-abused. Tobacco smoke increases alcoholic steatosis in apoE(−/−) mice. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals, but it is unknown which compounds in tobacco smoke play a major role in increasing alcoholic steatosis.
C57BL/J6 mice were intraperitoneally injected with nicotine 1 mg/kg every day or saline at the same volume as a control when the mice were fed dextrose-control or ethanol Lieber-DeCarli liquid diets. Three weeks later the mice were sacrificed after overnight fasting.
Neither nicotine injection nor ethanol feeding alone increased serum levels of triglyceride, but the combination of nicotine and ethanol increased serum levels of triglyceride. Both nicotine injection and ethanol feeding alone increased hepatic collagen type I deposition, and nicotine injection and ethanol feeding combined further increased hepatic collagen type I deposition. The combination of nicotine and ethanol also activated hepatic stellate cells, a principal liver fibrogenic cell. Hepatic fat accumulation was induced by ethanol feeding, which was enhanced by nicotine injection. Ethanol feeding caused an increase in serum ALT, but nicotine did not further increase serum ALT levels. Lipid droplets and inflammatory foci were observed in liver sections from ethanol-fed mice; nicotine treatment increased the number and size of lipid droplets, but not the number and size of inflammatory foci. Nicotine did not further increase ethanol-induced hepatic neutrophil infiltration.
These results suggest that nicotine enhances ethanol-induced steatosis and collagen deposition, but nicotine has no effect on ethanol-induced inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3723131  PMID: 23731694
CYP2A5; ethanol; nicotine; steatosis; collagen
23.  Changes in Gene Expression within the Ventral Tegmental Area Following Repeated Excessive Binge-Like Alcohol Drinking by Alcohol-Preferring (P) Rats 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(5):367-380.
The objective of this study was to detect changes in gene expression in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) following repeated excessive binge-like (‘loss-of-control’) alcohol drinking by alcohol-preferring (P) rats. Adult female P rats (n = 7) were given concurrent access to 10, 20, and 30% EtOH for 4 1-hour sessions daily for 10 weeks followed by 2 cycles of 2 weeks of abstinence and 2 weeks of EtOH access. Rats were sacrificed by decapitation 3 hours after the 4th daily EtOH-access session at the end of the second 2-week relapse period. A water-control group of female P rats (n = 8) was also sacrificed. RNA was prepared from micro-punch samples of the VTA from individual rats; analyses were conducted with Affymetrix Rat 230.2 GeneChips. Ethanol intakes were 1.2–1.7 g/kg per session, resulting in blood levels > 200 mg% at the end of the 4th session. There were 211 unique named genes that significantly differed (FDR = 0.1) between the water and EtOH groups. Bioinformatics analyses indicated alterations in a) transcription factors that reduced excitation-coupled transcription and promoted excitotoxic neuronal damage involving clusters of genes associated with Nfkbia, Fos, and Srebf1, b) genes that reduced cholesterol and fatty acid synthesis, and increased protein degradation, and c) genes involved in cell-to-cell interactions and regulation of the actin cytoskeleton. Among the named genes, there were 62 genes that showed differences between alcohol-naïve P and non-preferring (NP) rats, with 43 of the genes changing toward NP-like expression levels following excessive binge-like drinking in the P rats. These genes are involved in a pro-inflammatory response, and enhanced response to glucocorticoids and steroid hormones. Overall, the results of this study indicate that the repeated excessive binge-like alcohol drinking can change the expression of genes that may alter neuronal function in several ways, some of which may be deleterious.
PMCID: PMC3704142  PMID: 23714385
alcohol-preferring rat; binge-like alcohol drinking; ventral tegmental area; gene expression
24.  Protracted withdrawal from ethanol and enhanced responsiveness stress: regulation via the dynorphin/kappa opioid receptor system 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(5):359-365.
Although recent work suggests that the dynorphin/kappa opioid receptor (DYN/KOR) system may be a key mediator in the stress-related effects of alcohol, the regulation of long-term changes associated with protracted withdrawal from ethanol via the DYN/KOR system has yet to be explored. The objective of the present study was to determine the role of the DYN/KOR system in the regulation of anxiety-related behaviors during an extended period of abstinence from ethanol in animals with a history of ethanol dependence. Male Wistar rats (n = 94) were fed an ethanol or control liquid diet for 25–30 days. Six weeks after its removal, rats were exposed to 20 minutes of immobilization, and the ability of the KOR-antagonist norbinaltorphimine (nor-BNI) (0–20 mg/kg, intraperitoneal [i.p.]) to attenuate the enhanced responsiveness to stress observed in rats chronically exposed to ethanol was investigated using the elevated plus maze. In addition, the ability of U50,488 (0–10 mg/kg, i.p.) to prime anxiety-like behavior during protracted withdrawal was also examined. Rats with a history of ethanol dependence showed a significant decrease in open-arm exploration after exposure to restraint, indicating an anxiety-like state, compared to similarly treated controls, an effect that was blocked by nor-BNI. nor-BNI also selectively decreased center time and open-arm approaches in ethanol-exposed rats. The highest dose of U50,488 decreased open-arm exploration and the total number of arm entries in ethanol-exposed and control rats. Although lower doses of U50,488 did not affect open-arm exploration in either group, the 0.1 mg/kg dose selectively decreased motor activity in the ethanol-exposed rats when compared to similarly pretreated controls. These findings further support the hypothesis that behaviors associated with withdrawal from ethanol are in part regulated by the DYN/KOR system, and suggest that these effects may be long-lasting in nature.
PMCID: PMC3700612  PMID: 23731692
kappa opioids; ethanol; protracted abstinence; stress; anxiety; withdrawal
25.  Effect of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure on Bony Craniofacial Development: A Mouse MicroCT Study 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2013;47(5):405-415.
Craniofacial bone dysmorphology is an important but under-explored potential diagnostic feature of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. This study used longitudinal MicroCT 3D imaging to examine the effect of prenatal alcohol exposure on craniofacial bone growth in a mouse model. C57BL/6J dams were divided into 3 groups: alcohol 4.2% v/v in PMI® liquid diet (ALC), 2 weeks prior to and during pregnancy from embryonic (E) days 7-E16; pair-fed controls (PF), isocalorically matched to the ALC group; chow controls (CHOW), given ad libitum chow and water. The MicroCT scans were performed on pups on postnatal days 7 (P7) and P21. The volumes of the neurocranium (volume encased by the frontal, parietal, and occipital bones) and the viscerocranium (volume encased by the mandible and nasal bone), along with total skull bone volume, head size, and head circumference were evaluated using general linear models and discriminant analyses. The pups in the alcohol-treated group, when compared to the chow-fed controls (ALC vs. CHOW) and the isocaloric-fed controls (ALC vs. PF), showed differences in head size and circumference at P7 and P21, the total skull volume and parietal bone volume at P7, and volume of all the tested bones except nasal at P21. There was a growth trend of ALC < CHOW and ALC < PF. While covarying for gender and head size or circumference, the treatment affected the total skull and mandible at P7 (ALC > CHOW), and the total skull, parietal bone, and occipital bone at P21 (ALC < CHOW, ALC < PF). While covarying for the P7 measures, the treatment affected only the 3 neurocranial bones at P21 (ALC < CHOW, ALC < PF). Discriminant analysis sensitively selected between ALC and CHOW (AUC = 0.967), between ALC and PF (AUC = 0.995), and between PF and CHOW (AUC = 0.805). These results supported our hypothesis that craniofacial bones might be a reliable and sensitive indicator for the diagnosis of prenatal alcohol exposure. Significantly, we found that the neurocranium (upper skull) was more sensitive to alcohol than the viscerocranium (face).
PMCID: PMC3732041  PMID: 23809873
prenatal alcohol; craniofacial bone; facial dysmorphology; diagnosis

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