Behavioral Changes after Chronic Ethanol Treatment

  • Sture Liljequist
  • Jörgen Engel
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 85B)


Rats were maintained on ad lib food and a forced-intake regimen of ethanol for up to 270 days. Termination of the long-term ethanol treatment caused two types of withdrawal syndromes. The first, an acute withdrawal syndrome was observed within 12 hr after the discontinuation of the ethanol treatment and was characterized by extreme hyperexcitability. The second, a delayed withdrawal syndrome was characterized by a more coordinated behavioral stimulation and developed first after about 3 days after the discontinuation of the ethanol treatment. Bilateral application of dopamine (DA) into the nucleus accumbens of both chronic ethanol and ethanol rats undergoing withdrawal produced a pronounced increase in coordinated locomotor activity which was 8–10 times higher than that of untreated water control rats. This phenomenon was observed first after 5 months of ethanol treatment and lasted for about 4 weeks after the termination of the treatment. This effect of DA was antagonized by haloperidol indicating a specific effect on DA-receptors. It is concluded that prolonged ethanol administration produces an increased sensitivity of the DA-receptors in the nucleus accumbens and further supports the contention that central catecholamine mechanisms are involved in the mediation of the withdrawal syndrome observed after long-term treatment with ethanol.


Locomotor Activity Nucleus Accumbens Withdrawal Syndrome Chronic Ethanol Ethanol Treatment 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sture Liljequist
    • 1
  • Jörgen Engel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of GöteborgGöteborgSweden

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