Author(s): Tu Y, Kroener S, Abernathy K, Lapish C, Seamans J,
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Abstract Cognitive functions supported by neurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) are disrupted by acute and chronic exposure to alcohol, yet little is known about the mechanisms that underlie these effects. In the present study, in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology was used to determine the effects of ethanol on neuronal firing and network patterns of persistent activity in PFC neurons. In vivo, ethanol (0.375-3.5 g/kg) dose-dependently reduced spike activity in the PFC measured with multielectrode extracellular recording in the anesthetized rat. In an in vitro coculture system containing slices of PFC, hippocampus, and ventral tegmental area (VTA), ethanol (25-100 mM) decreased persistent activity of PFC neurons, but had little effect on firing evoked by direct current injection. Persistent activity was often enhanced after ethanol washout and this effect was maintained in cultures lacking the VTA. A low concentration of the NMDA antagonist APV (5 microM) mimicked the inhibition of ethanol of persistent activity with no change in activity after washout. Ethanol inhibition of spontaneous and VTA-evoked persistent activity was enhanced by the D1 dopamine receptor antagonist SCH23390 [R(+)-7-chloro-8-hydroxy-3-methyl-1-phenyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-1H-3-benzazepine hydrochloride]. The results of this study show that ethanol inhibits persistent activity and spike firing of PFC neurons and that the degree of ethanol inhibition may be influenced by D1 receptor tone. Ethanol-induced alterations in the activity of deep-layer cortical neurons may underlie some of the behavioral effects associated with ethanol intake.
This article was published in J Neurosci
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy