Chronic ethanol intoxication and the withdrawal syndrome in mice: biogenic amine levels and turnover rates



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Whole brain levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin were assayed in mice during three days of continuous ethanol intoxication and one day of acute withdrawal. During intoxication a near constant blood level of ethanol was obtained by housing mice in a vapor chamber into which air containing ethanol vapor was continuously pumped; ethanol metabolism was partially blocked by pyrazole. An acute withdrawal syndrome, including convulsions, was precipitated after withdrawal from ethanol. Blood alcohol levels during intoxication and withdrawal were monitored by gas-liquid chromatography. The degree of physical dependence on ethanol was determined by scoring the intensity of the elicited convulsions. The level and turnover rate of serotonin remained unchanged during the entire period. The levels of norepinephrine and dopamine decreased significantly during intoxication. The norepinephrine level decreased further and the dopamine level increased rapidly to control following withdrawal. Catecholamine turnover rates were significantly changed during intoxication and withdrawal.