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Exp Neurol. 2007 Apr;204(2):680-92. Epub 2007 Jan 8.

Neurotrophin ligand-receptor systems in somatosensory cortex of adult rat are affected by repeated episodes of ethanol.

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Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, State University of New York-Upstate Medical University, 750 East Adams Street, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.


Ethanol exposure profoundly affects learning and memory and neural plasticity. Key players underlying these functions are neurotrophins. The present study explored the effects of ethanol on the distribution of neurotrophins in the cerebral cortex of the adult rat. Age- and weight-matched pairs of adult male, Long-Evans rats were fed a liquid, ethanol-containing (6.7% v/v) diet or pair-fed an isocaloric control diet three consecutive days per week for 6, 12, 18, or 24 weeks. Brains were processed immunohistochemically for nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression and for the expression of three neurotrophin receptors, p75, trkA, and trkB. Total numbers of immunolabeled neurons in specific layers of somatosensory cortex of ethanol- and control-fed animals were determined stereologically. Ethanol exposure induced an increase in the numbers of NGF- or BDNF-expressing neurons and in neurotrophin content per somata. These changes were (a) time and (b) laminar dependent. In contrast, the number of receptor-expressing neurons did not change due to ethanol exposure or to length of time on the ethanol diet. Thus, ethanol induces the recruitment of cortical neurons to express neurotrophins and an increase in the amount of neurotrophin expression per neuron.

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