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The effect of lifelong ethanol consumption on rat locus coeruleus

By Wei Lu, Pia Jaatinen, Jyrki Rintala and Maija Sarviharju


Abstract — The effects of lifelong ethanol consumption and ageing on the morphology of locus coeruleus (LC) were studied in alcohol-preferring AA (Alko Alcohol) rats of both sexes. Ethanol (12 % v/ v) was the only available liquid for the ethanol-consuming rats from 3 months up to 24 months of age. Young (3-month-old) and old (24-month-old) control groups were included in uSe measurements. The LC morphometry was performed by an unbiased disector method. In the old control rats, the total neuron number, neuronal density and the volume of the LC proper did not differ from the young controls. In the ethanol-exposed rats, the total neuron number of the LC was decreased by 30 % and the LC neuronal density by 22%, compared to the age-matched controls. No gender difference was found in the vulnerability of LC neurons to ethanol-induced degeneration. The results suggest a remarkable sensitivity of the LC neurons to the ethanol-induced degeneration in both male and female rats. The possible mechanisms and functional implications of this neuronal loss are discussed

Year: 1996
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