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Prenatal ethanol exposure results in increased anxiety and anxiolytic response to 8-OH-DPAT in the novelty-induced suppression of feeding task
Hofmann, CE; Ellis, L; Weinberg, J
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Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Previous work in our laboratory has shown that prenatal ethanol exposure alters hypothermic and hormonal responses to 5-HT receptor agonists. In the present study we examined the impact of prenatal ethanal exposure on 5-HT dependent behavior, using suppression of feeding as a marker of anxiety in a novel environment. We also investigated the possibility that prenatal ethand exposure alters sensitivity to the anxiolytic agent 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT), a 5-HT1A agonist. Female and male offspring from ethanol exposed (E), pair-fed control (PF) and ad libitum-fed control (C) dams were tested at 90-120 days of age in the novelty-induced suppression of feeding task. Latency to begin feeding was used as the major index of anxiety. Animals were habituated to a novel food in their home cage for 15 min each day for 21 days. On day 22, animals received an injection of 6-OH-DPAT (0.03 mg/kg s.c.) or saline 30 min prior to food presentation, either in their home cage or in a novel cage. Under home cage conditions, saline-treated E female and male offspring displayed decreased habituation to repeated food presentation by consuming less food and showing an increased latency to eat, respectively. Under novel cage conditions E females, but not E males, showed a longer latency to feed compared to PF and C rats. Moreover, 8-OH-DPAT increased the rate of feeding in E but not PF and C females. These results indicate that prenatal ethanol exposure alters normal behavioral responses to novelty, especially in female offspring. These results also suggest that 5-HT1A receptor responsivity is enhanced in E females.
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