Effects of alcohol exposure during development on social behavior in rats.

Lugo JN, Marino MD, Cronise K, Kelly SJ
Physiol Behav. 2003 78 (2): 185-94

PMID: 12576115 · DOI:10.1016/s0031-9384(02)00971-x

In addition to the cognitive deficits associated with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), clinical and animal studies indicate that alcohol exposure might also have detrimental effects on social behavior. In a rat model of FAS, experimental rats were given alcohol from gestational day (GD) 1 to 22 and from postnatal day (PD) 2 to 10, a period roughly equivalent to all three trimesters in humans. Control groups consisted of rats exposed to the administration procedures but not to alcohol and nontreated rats. At 30 days of age, rats were tested for social behavior in an alley maze that contained its cagemate in the goal box. After varying periods of isolation, the animals' latencies to reach the goal box and their social behaviors once inside the goal box were recorded. Alcohol-exposed animals ran faster than control rats to the occupied goal box regardless of the amount of isolation. The alcohol-exposed animals also exhibited aberrant social interactions with their cagemate once inside the goal box compared to one or both of the control groups. Specifically, the alcohol-exposed animals showed greater amounts of anogenital sniffing, chasing, hopping and darting, and retrieving and lesser amounts of pinning and biting compared to one or both of the control groups. The alcohol-induced change in anogenital sniffing varied over increasing amounts of isolation compared to both control groups, but the alterations in the other behaviors did not. It is argued that the altered social behavior of alcohol-exposed animals is not the result of changes in the animals' motivational state or social learning and may be the result of an increased responsiveness to social stimuli.

MeSH Terms (14)

Analysis of Variance Animals Animals, Newborn Behavior, Animal Central Nervous System Depressants Ethanol Female Fetus Male Maze Learning Pregnancy Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects Rats Social Behavior

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