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Alcohol. 2020 Jan 7. pii: S0741-8329(19)30042-4. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2019.12.006. [Epub ahead of print]

Effects of Ethanol on Plasma Ghrelin levels in the Rat During Early and Late Adolescence.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham N.C. 27701.
Department of Neurosciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425.
Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164.
Department of Neurosciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425. Electronic address:


Ghrelin is an appetite-regulating peptide that is primarily secreted by endocrine cells in the stomach and is implicated in regulation of alcohol consumption and alcohol-reinforced behaviors. In the present study, adolescent Sprague-Dawley rats received intermittent ethanol (AIE) exposure by intragastric intubation (5 g/kg) or vapor inhalation, manipulations conducted between postnatal days (PD) 28-43. On the first and last day of AIE exposure, the level of intoxication was examined 1 hr after ethanol gavage or upon removal from the vapor chamber. This was immediately followed by a blood draw for determination of the blood ethanol concentration (BEC) and plasma levels of acylated ghrelin (acyl-ghrelin; active). On PD 29, plasma levels of acyl-ghrelin were significantly elevated in male (but not female) rats in response to acute ethanol exposure by both gastric gavage and vapor inhalation. Importantly, assessment of plasma acyl-ghrelin in response to repeated ethanol exposure revealed a complex interaction of both sex and method of AIE exposure. On PD 43, vapor inhalation increased plasma acyl-ghrelin in both males and females compared to their air control counterparts, whereas there was no change in plasma levels of acyl-ghrelin in either male or female rats in response to exposure by intragastric gavage. Assessment of plasma acyl-ghrelin following a 30-day ethanol-free period revealed AIE exposure did not produce a change in basal levels. In addition, an acute ethanol challenge in adult rats of 5g/kg via gastric gavage had no effect on plasma ghrelin levels when assessed one hr after initiation of exposure. Collectively, these observations suggest that acyl-ghrelin, a primary gut-brain signaling hormone, is elevated by ethanol during early adolescence independent of administration route, and in gender-dependent fashion.


Adolescence; Alcohol; Ethanol Vapor; Ghrelin; Intermittent Ethanol; Intragastric Ethanol

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