Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1998 Sep;139(1-2):145-53.

Repeated ethanol withdrawal experience selectively alters sensitivity to different chemoconvulsant drugs in mice.

Author information

  • 1Alcohol Research Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Charleston 29425, USA.


Repeated ethanol withdrawal experience has been shown to result in exacerbated seizures associated with future withdrawal episodes. This sensitization of the withdrawal response has been postulated to represent a "kindling" phenomenon. The present study employed an established model of repeated ethanol withdrawals to examine the potential role of GABA(A), and NMDA and non-NMDA glutamate receptor systems in mediating enhanced seizure activity, as assessed by sensitivity to seizures induced by pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), NMDA, and kainic acid (KA) i.v. infusions, respectively. Adult C3H mice were chronically exposed to ethanol vapor in inhalation chambers. A multiple withdrawal (MW) group received four cycles of 16-h ethanol vapor exposure interrupted by 8-h periods of abstinence; a single withdrawal (SW) group was tested after a single 16-h bout of ethanol intoxication; and the third group was ethanol-naive, serving as controls (C). Results indicated that the MW group evidenced significantly lower PTZ and NMDA seizure thresholds compared to SW and C groups at 8 and 24 h post-withdrawal. In contrast, MW and SW groups exhibited reduced sensitivity (higher seizure threshold) to KA in comparison to controls, and this effect only emerged at 24 h post-withdrawal. Further, MW mice required significantly less additional PTZ or NMDA to induce more severe convulsions once initial signs of seizures were elicited. Conversely, latency and amount of KA required to transition from initial seizure signs to more severe end-stage convulsions was significantly greater for MW and SW groups compared to controls. Taken together, these results suggest that repeated ethanol withdrawal experience does not result in a global non-specific lowering of threshold to convulsive stimuli, but rather, selective changes in CNS mechanisms associated with neural excitability may underlie potentiated withdrawal responses. Thus, reduced GABA(A) receptor function and increased NMDA receptor activity may become exaggerated as a consequence of repeated withdrawal experience, while reduced sensitivity to KA induced seizures may represent a compensatory response to withdrawal-related CNS hyperexcitability.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Springer
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk