Combined Effects of Binge Alcohol and Exercise on Intensity of Perineuronal Nets



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Perineuronal Nets (PNNs) are lattice-like protein structures that surround the soma and processes of neurons in the extracellular matrix. PNNs have been known to exist for over a century and regulate two main functions: neuroplasticity and neuroprotection. The roles of neuroplasticity and protection are deeply involved with everyday life but are of key importance concerning specific behaviors such as alcohol consumption and exercise. While many people can consume alcohol without experiencing negative consequences that outweigh the positive experiences, there is still a necessity to understand the underlying neurological consequences of consuming alcohol regularly. Limited research indicates that the expression of PNNs increases after alcohol exposure and decreases with physical exercise in cortical regions (Chen et al., 2015; Reichelt et al., 2019; Smith et al., 2015). This increased expression of PNNs seems to indicate a restriction of plasticity from specific behaviors such as binge drinking and a possible neuroprotective effect against the immunological effects of alcohol. Comparatively, the reduction in expression of PNNs in the presence of exercise suggests an increase in neuroplasticity. However, research surrounding perineuronal nets has been sporadic in the methods for the analysis of these structures. This lack of clarity has led to difficulty in the interpretation of data from existing sources. Through the use of fluorescent staining, ImageJ, and PIPSQUEAK AI, a standardized methodological approach for the quantification of PNNs was further developed to analyze the interaction between variables such as binge alcohol consumption and exercise.