Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Mark A. Prendergast

Abstract

Prolonged, heavy consumption of alcohol produces marked neuroadaptations in excitatory neurotransmission. These effects are accelerated following patterns of intermittent heavy drinking wherein periods of heavy consumption are followed by periods of abstinence. Studies have shown that neuroadaptive changes in the glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor produces excitotoxicity during periods of withdrawal; however, upstream targets were not adequately characterized. The present studies sought to identify these targets by assessing the role of group 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR) and intracellular calcium in promoting cytotoxicity of hippocampal cell layers in vitro. It was hypothesized that ethanol-induced activity of mGluR1-and-5 contributes to hippocampal cytotoxicity and promotes the behavioral effects of withdrawal in vivo. In order to identify and test this theory, rat hippocampal explants were co-exposed to chronic intermittent ethanol exposure with or without the addition of a group 1 mGluR antagonist to assess cytotoxicity in neuronal cell types. In a second study, adult male rodents were co-exposed to chronic intermittent ethanol exposure with or without the addition of an mGluR5 antagonist to assess the role of these receptors in the development of dependence as reflected in withdrawal behaviors. Together, these studies help to identify and screen toxicity of putative pharmacotherapies for the treatment of ethanol dependence in the clinical population.

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