Effects of Chronic Ethanol Consumption and Aging on Dopamine, Serotonin, and Metabolites

Authors

  • James M. Woods,

    1. Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Loyola University of Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Illinois, U.S.A.
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    • This research was performed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree by Dr. J. M. Woods.

  • Mary J. Druse

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Loyola University of Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Illinois, U.S.A.
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. M. J. Druse Manteuffel at Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Loyola University of Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL 60153, U.S.A.

Abstract

Abstract: This study examined the hypothesis that chronic ethanol consumption results in significant abnormalities in both the dopaminergic and the serotonergic system of aged rats. Levels of dopamine (DA), serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)], 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), and 5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid (5-HIAA) were determined in brain areas of both the nigrostriatal and mesocorticolimbic DA systems in 5-, 14-, and 24-month-old male Fischer 344 rats. Aging was associated with a reduced concentration of DA in the striatum (ST), ventral tegmental area (VTA), and ventral pallidum (VP) and an increased concentration of 5-HIAA in the ST, globus pallidus, nucleus accumbens, frontal cortex, and VP. In addition, there was an increase in the 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio in all brain areas analyzed. Six weeks of ethanol consumption was accompanied by significant changes in mesocorticolimbic brain areas. In the VTA of 5-month-old ethanol-fed rats DA content was decreased to the levels found in aged rats, e.g., 24 months of age. Ethanol also significantly lowered 5-HT and 5-HIAA contents in the VTA and reduced DOPAC and 5-HIAA levels in the VP. In addition, ethanol blunted the normal age-related increase in 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio in the VTA, VP, and substantia nigra. It is interesting that although the age-related changes were found in both nigrostriatal and mesocorticolimbic brain areas, the ethanol-associated effects were found only in brain areas of the mesocorticolimbic system. The changes in DA and 5-HT function that accompany aging and ethanol consumption may contribute to the problems in motor function and ethanol abuse found in the aged.

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