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Alcohol. 2013 Mar;47(2):95-102. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2012.12.007.

Effects of intermittent binge alcohol exposure on long-term motor function in young rats.

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Department of Psychology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada A1B 3V6.


Ethanol has well described acute effects on motor function, and chronic alcoholism can damage the cerebellum, which is associated with motor coordination, as well as motor learning. Binge drinking is common among preadolescents and adolescents, and this type of ethanol exposure may lead to long-term nervous system damage. In the current study, we analyzed the effects of periadolsecent/adolescent ethanol exposure on motor function in both male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. To simulate binge drinking, animals received an intraperitoneal injection of 25% (v/v) ethanol (3 g/kg) on postnatal days (PND) 25, 26, 29, 30, 33, 34, 37 and 38. On PND 42 and PND 61 animals were tested on their ability to traverse both square and round beams. There were no significant differences in the time to traverse the beams, or the amount of foot slips, between treated and untreated animals. On PND 48 and PND 62, animals were tested using a horizontal ladder walking apparatus. On PND 48 there were no differences in the ability of treated and untreated animals to traverse the ladder. On PND 62, there were no differences in the time to traverse the ladder, but ethanol treated animals had more foot slips than controls. On PND 43, we conducted footprint analysis of control and treated animals, which included measurements of stride length, paw overlap, and angle of foot placement. There was a significant difference in the angle of foot placement between treated and control animals, and this finding was significant for both male and female animals. There was also a significant overall difference in paw overlap between treatment groups. Although this effect was manifested in male animals there was no significant difference in females. These findings suggest that adolescent ethanol exposure can produce long-lasting effects on motor coordination, and that overall, effects are similar in males and females. In a second set of experiments, male rats received i.p. ethanol (3 g/kg) for 7 days (P31-37) or 4 days (P31,33,35,37). No significant differences were detected by footprint analysis when compared to control animals. However, ethanol treated animals had significantly less cerebellar Purkinje cells at 3 weeks after the last ethanol exposure. Altered motor function suggests a possible neurodegenerative effect in the cerebellum initiated by adolescent ethanol exposure, and may depend on the extent of exposure during the preadolescent and/or adolescent brain periods.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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