EtOH disrupts female mammalian puberty
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The major drug of abuse among teenagers in the United States continues to be ethanol (EtOH), but use is seen in children as young as nine. In the studies reported here, the impact of EtOH on biologic and hormonal parameters of puberty was assessed in female rats. Rats were fed a liquid diet containing EtOH, pair fed an identical liquid diet containing dextrimaltose instead of EtOH, or fed a liquid diet not containing EtOH ad libitum. Feeding was started at 21, 25, or 28 d of age. EtOH markedly delayed the age at vaginal opening (34.5±0.5 d in controls vs 48.5±2.4 d in EtOH animals; p<0.001), delayed the age at first estrous (40.9±0.6 d in controls vs 61.2±2.6 d in EtOH animals; p<0.001), increased the length of the estrous cycle, and decreased the number of proestrous days. EtOH, concomitant with reduced ovarian and uterine weight, decreased serum estradiol and progesterone. Associated with these changes in ovarian hormones there was a selective increase in follicle-stimulating hormone, but not luteinizing hormone. EtOH consistently reduced insulin-like growth factor-1. In general, EtOH-induced disruption was more severe the younger the animals were at the start of feeding. Opiate receptor blockade with naltrexone completely prevented the EtOH-induced delay in vaginal opening. The impact of EtOH on female puberty is dramatic, is an emerging public health problem, and deserves more study.
Key WordsEthanol puberty female rat opiates
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