Modulation of hippocampal long-term potentiation by slow increases in ethanol concentration

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To determine how acute ethanol intoxication may alter memory processing, we examined the effects of stepwise increases in ethanol on long-term potentiation (LTP) in rat hippocampal slices. LTP was inhibited by acute administration of 60 mM ethanol, but was readily induced if ethanol was increased gradually to 60 mM over 75 min. Administration of 2-amino-5 phosphonovalerate (APV), an N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist, during the stepwise increase in ethanol inhibited LTP, suggesting involvement of NMDARs in the development of tolerance. However, APV and nifedipine, an inhibitor of L-type calcium channels, failed to inhibit LTP when administered following the slow increase in ethanol. Ethanol-tolerant LTP was inhibited by thapsigargin, suggesting a major role for intracellular calcium release in this form of plasticity. The unique properties of ethanol-tolerant LTP suggest that memories formed during binge drinking are not acquired by standard synaptic mechanisms and that acute tolerance may involve the induction of novel mechanisms to maintain function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-349
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 25 2007


  • alcohol
  • allostasis
  • desensitization
  • ethanol
  • tolerance


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