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Brain Res Bull. 2003 Dec 30;62(3):197-202.

Open field locomotor effects in rats after intraventricular injections of ethanol and the ethanol metabolites acetaldehyde and acetate.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-1020, USA.


The typical response to acute peripheral administration of low to high doses of ethanol in rats is a dose-dependent depression of motor activity. Nevertheless, recent studies indicate that intraventricular (ICV) injections of ethanol can produce signs of behavioral activation. In addition, considerable evidence indicates that brain metabolism of ethanol is involved in modulating some of the behavioral effects of this drug, which suggests that ethanol may have active metabolites with central actions. The present study was undertaken to investigate the effects of ICV ethanol, and its two major metabolites acetaldehyde and acetate, on open field locomotor activity in rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats received different doses of ethanol, acetaldehyde or acetate ICV and immediately were placed in an open field chamber in which locomotion was measured. Rats injected with ICV ethanol or acetaldehyde showed an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve, with moderate doses increasing motor activity. In contrast, acetate produced a dose-dependent decrease in motor activity. These results demonstrate that central administration of low doses of ethanol can increase locomotor activity in rats, and suggest that acetaldehyde may be an active metabolite of ethanol that also can facilitate locomotor activity. Moreover, it is possible that some of the motor suppression or sedation produced by ethanol is due to the central actions of acetate.

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