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Alcohol. 2000 Jan;20(1):45-53.

Ontogeny of ethanol elimination and ethanol-induced hypothermia.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Center for Developmental Psychobiology, Binghamton University, NY 13902-6000, USA.


Ontogeny of ethanol elimination rates and ethanol-induced hypothermia were examined as possible mechanisms contributing to the marked reduction in ethanol sensitivity early in life (Little et al., 1996; Silveri & Spear, 1998) and the notable gender difference in ethanol sleep-time seen in adult animals (Silveri & Spear, 1998). Elimination rates and brain/blood ethanol levels were determined following doses of 1.5 or 4.5 g/kg ethanol in male and female Sprague-Dawley rats at postnatal days (P)16, 26, 36, or 56. Animals were sacrificed at 40, 80, or 160 min post-injection, with ethanol elimination rates estimated from the slope of the regression of blood and brain alcohol levels across the three sampling periods. P16 animals exhibited the slowest rate of ethanol metabolism, while no gender effects were evident at any age. Observed ontogenetic increases in ethanol hypothermia were not systematically related to the ontogeny of ethanol metabolism. Factors other than ontogenetic changes in ethanol metabolism, hypothermia, or the distribution of ethanol between brain and blood must underlie the relative insensitivity to ethanol often reported in young and adolescent organisms, a fruitful area for future studies given the frequent use and misuse of alcohol by human adolescents.

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