Pharmacological effects of ethanol on ingestive behavior of the preweanling rat

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Abstract

The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that sensitivity of ingestive behavior of infant rat to the pharmacological effects of ethanol changes between postnatal (P) days 9 and 12. The intake of 0.1% saccharin and water, general motor activity, and myoclonic twitching activity were assessed following administration of three doses of ethanol (0, 0.25, and 0.5 g/kg) while fluids were free available to the animals. The 0.5 g/kg dose of ethanol attenuated saccharin intake in P9 pups and enhanced saccharin intake in P12 rats. On P12 some sex-related differences emerged at 0.5 g/kg of ethanol, with saccharin intake being higher in females than in their male counterparts. Taste reactivity probe revealed that 0.5 g/kg of ethanol increased taste responsiveness to saccharin on P12 but only to infusions presented at a high rate. The results of the present study indicate that ontogenetic changes in sensitivity to the effects of ethanol on ingestive behavior occur during the second postnatal week, with P9 animals being more sensitive to the inhibitory (sedative) effects on saccharin intake and P12 rats being more sensitive to the stimulatory effects of ethanol. We suggest that acute ethanol enhanced saccharin intake via sensitization of oral response to appetitive taste stimulation.

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