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  • Prenatal ethanol increases ethanol intake throughout adolescence, alters ethanol-mediated aversive learning, and affects μ but not δ or κ opioid receptor mRNA expression.

Prenatal ethanol increases ethanol intake throughout adolescence, alters ethanol-mediated aversive learning, and affects μ but not δ or κ opioid receptor mRNA expression.

The European journal of neuroscience (2015-04-14)
María Carolina Fabio, Ana Fabiola Macchione, Michael E Nizhnikov, Ricardo Marcos Pautassi
ABSTRACT

Animal models of prenatal ethanol exposure (PEE) have indicated a facilitatory effect of PEE on adolescent ethanol intake, but few studies have assessed the effects of moderate PEE throughout adolescence. The mechanisms underlying this facilitatory effect remain largely unknown. In the present study, we analysed ethanol intake in male and female Wistar rats with or without PEE (2.0 g/kg, gestational days 17-20) from postnatal days 37 to 62. The results revealed greater ethanol consumption in PEE rats than in controls, which persisted throughout adolescence. By the end of testing, ethanol ingestion in PEE rats was nearly 6.0 g/kg. PEE was associated with insensitivity to ethanol-induced aversion. PEE and control rats were further analysed for levels of μ, δ and κ opioid receptor mRNA in the infralimbic cortex, nucleus accumbens shell, and ventral tegmental area. Similar levels of mRNA were observed across most areas and opioid receptors, but μ receptor mRNA in the ventral tegmental area was significantly increased by PEE. Unlike previous studies that assessed the effects of PEE on ethanol intake close to birth, or in only a few sessions during adolescence, the present study observed a facilitatory effect of PEE that lasted throughout adolescence. PEE was associated with insensitivity to the aversive effect of ethanol, and increased levels of μ opioid receptor transcripts. PEE is a prominent vulnerability factor that probably favors the engagement of adolescents in risky trajectories of ethanol use.

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