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Note: Research in this publication was not performed at Janelia.
AIM: Ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization is a behavioral manifestation of physiological responses to repeated ethanol exposures. While ethanol exerts direct effects on multiple neurotransmitter systems in the brain, ethanol-induced changes in metabolic state, including acute hyperglycemia and inhibition of insulin signaling, also have plausible roles in the expression of ethanol-related behaviors through direct and indirect effects on brain function. The current experiments examined whether insulin administration or the resultant hypoglycemia might attenuate the development of sensitization to the locomotor stimulant effect of ethanol.
MAIN METHODS: Male and female DBA/2J mice received daily injections of 5 or 10 IU/kg insulin before or after a stimulating dose of ethanol and subsequent testing in an automated activity monitor. Blood glucose levels were determined upon the completion of the experiments.
KEY FINDINGS: Insulin injected prior to ethanol blunted the acute stimulant response as well as the acquisition and expression of locomotor sensitization, while insulin given after ethanol did not affect the development of the sensitized response. In a separate experiment, mice given glucose concurrently with insulin developed ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization normally.
SIGNIFICANCE: These experiments suggest that insulin attenuates the development of ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization, and that blood glucose levels can largely account for this effect. Further studies of the role of ethanol-induced metabolic states should provide novel information on the expression of ethanol-related behaviors.