Acute Alcohol Produces Ataxia and Cognitive Impairments in Aged Animals: A Comparison Between Young Adult and Aged Rats
Article first published online: 29 MAR 2013
Copyright © 2013 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 37, Issue 8, pages 1317–1324, August 2013
How to Cite
Novier, A., Van Skike, C. E., Diaz-Granados, J. L., Mittleman, G. and Matthews, D. B. (2013), Acute Alcohol Produces Ataxia and Cognitive Impairments in Aged Animals: A Comparison Between Young Adult and Aged Rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37: 1317–1324. doi: 10.1111/acer.12110
- Issue published online: 26 JUL 2013
- Article first published online: 29 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 11 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Received: 20 SEP 2012
- Righting Reflex;
- Water Maze
Aging in both humans and rodents appears to be accompanied by physiological changes that increase biologic sensitivity to ethanol (EtOH) intoxication. However, animal models designed to investigate this increased alcohol sensitivity have yet to be established. For this reason, we sought to determine whether acute EtOH administration produces differential effects on motor coordination and spatial cognition in young adult and aged rats.
Male young adult (postnatal day 70 to 72) and aged (~18 months) Sprague-Dawley rats were assessed on 2 motor tasks (the accelerating rotarod [RR] and the aerial righting reflex [ARR]) and a single cognitive performance task (the Morris water maze [MWM]). Following acute EtOH exposure via intraperitoneal injection, animals' performance was reassessed.
Aged rats showed a dramatic increase in EtOH-induced ataxia on the RR and the ARR relative to young adult animals. Similarly, results from the MWM revealed that aged animals had slightly greater EtOH-induced impairments compared with young adult animals. Importantly, the increased impairments produced by EtOH were not due to differential blood EtOH levels.
We demonstrate for the first time that aged rats show greater EtOH-induced deficits compared with young adults in tasks of motor and cognitive performance. The possible role of protein kinase C as a mechanism for increased sensitivity to the motor-impairing effects of EtOH is discussed. Given the high prevalence of alcohol use among the elderly, increased vulnerability to alcohol-induced deficits may have a profound effect on injury in this population.