, Volume 235, Issue 6, pp 1783–1791 | Cite as

Effect of gabapentin on sleep and delta and theta EEG power in adult rats exposed to chronic intermittent ethanol vapor and protracted withdrawal during adolescence

  • Cindy L. Ehlers
  • Manuel Sanchez-Alavez
  • Derek Wills
Original Investigation



Adolescents and young adults with alcohol problems may also have sleep difficulties. However, whether these sleep problems are a result of a history of drinking or arise due to other comorbid disorders is difficult to disentangle in human studies. Additionally, the mechanisms underlying adolescent alcohol-induced sleep disturbances and potential targets for therapy also remain under-investigated. Recent clinical trials have demonstrated that the anticonvulsant and analgesic drug gabapentin may have therapeutic value in normalizing sleep quality in adult recovering alcoholics, yet its potential for the treatment of adolescent sleep disturbances has not been investigated.


This study sought to evaluate the effects of a history of 5 weeks of chronic intermittent ethanol vapor exposure, administered during adolescence (AIE), on EEG sleep, in young adult rats (n = 29). The ability of two doses of gabapentin (30, 120 mg/kg) to modify sleep and slow wave activity were also investigated in these young adult rats exposed to alcohol vapor during adolescence.


Adolescent vapor exposure in the rat was found to result in deficits in delta (1–4 Hz) and theta (4–8 Hz) power during slow wave sleep. Administration of gabapentin caused a “normalization” of the delta power deficits but did not affect theta power.


This report suggests that the potential mechanisms and therapeutic targets for sleep disturbance associated with adolescent alcohol exposure can be studied in preclinical models and that gabapentin may show partial efficacy in ameliorating these sleep deficits.


Adolescence Alcohol Sleep Slow wave sleep Gabapentin 



The authors wish to acknowledge the technical support of Jessica Benedict, Mellany Santos, and Philip Lau.

Funding information

National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for this study was provided by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) U01 AA19969, AA006059 to CLE.

Compliance with ethical standards

The experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cindy L. Ehlers
    • 1
  • Manuel Sanchez-Alavez
    • 1
  • Derek Wills
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurosciencesThe Scripps Research InstituteLa JollaUSA

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