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Mol Pharmacol. 1991 Feb;39(2):157-63.

Prolonged ethanol inhalation decreases gamma-aminobutyric acidA receptor alpha subunit mRNAs in the rat cerebral cortex.

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Section of Molecular Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Ethanol administration to rats by ethanol vapor inhalation (14 days) results in a 40-50% reduction in the level of gamma-aminobutyric acidA (GABAA) receptor alpha 1 subunit mRNAs [4.4 and 4.8 kilobases (kb)] in the cerebral cortex. The level of alpha 2 subunit mRNA (8.0 kb) was also reduced by 29%, whereas there was no effect of prolonged ethanol exposure on the level of alpha 3 subunit mRNA (3.1 kb). Ethanol exposure did not alter the steady state levels of cerebral cortical glutamic acid decarboxylase or beta-actin mRNAs. Moreover, no alterations in the levels of total RNA, poly(A)+ RNA, or rRNA were observed, suggesting that the ethanol-induced reductions in GABAA receptor alpha 1 and alpha 2 subunit mRNAs were not the result of a generalized effect of ethanol administration on transcription or mRNA turnover. These ethanol-induced reductions in GABAA receptor alpha subunit mRNAs may underlie alterations in GABAA receptor function or number observed following prolonged ethanol exposure in rats.

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