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Alcohol potentiates ketamine-induced behavioral changes in adolescent rats.Alcohol potentiates ketamine-induced brain morphological changes in adolescent rats.The potentiation is related with Glu and DA increase in the cortex and hippocampus.The potentiation is through down-regulation of CREB-related pathways.Currently, an increasing proportion of adolescent ketamine users simultaneously consume alcohol. However, the potential behavioural and neurological alterations induced by such a drug combination and the underlying mechanisms have not been systematically examined. Therefore, in the present study, the behavioural and morphological changes and the underlying mechanisms were studied in adolescent rats after repeated alcohol and/or ketamine treatment. This study provided the first evidence that co-administration of alcohol (2 and 4 g/kg, i.g.) in adolescent rats significantly potentiated the neurotoxic properties of repeated ketamine (30 mg/kg, i.p.) treatments over 14 days, manifesting as increased locomotor activity, stereotypic behaviour, ataxia and morphological changes. This potentiation was associated with the enhancement by alcohol of ketamine-induced glutamate (Glu) and dopamine (DA) release in the cortex and hippocampus. Further mechanistic study demonstrated that alcohol potentiated ketamine-induced neurotoxicity through down-regulation of Akt (a serine/threonine kinase or protein kinase, PKB), protein kinase A (PKA), calmodulin-dependent kinase IV (CaMK-IV)-mediated cyclic AMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB) pathways and induction of neuronal apoptosis in the cortex and hippocampus of the adolescent rats. As this study provides strong evidence that repeated alcohol and ketamine co-exposure may cause serious neurotoxicity, attention needs to be drawn to the potential risk of this consumption behaviour, especially for adolescents.