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Effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol on activity, anxiety, motor coordination, and memory in young adult Wistar rats

Dursun, I.
Jakubowska-Dogru, E.
Uzbay, T.
The objective of the present study was to examine the effects of prenatal exposure to ethanol on motor performance, emotionality, learning and memory in young-adult, male Wistar rats. Alcohol was delivered to the pregnant dams intragastrically, throughout gestation days (GD) 7-20, at the dose of 6 g/kg/day resulting in the peak blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 350 mg/dl as assessed on GD 20. Isocaloric intubation and untreated control groups were included. Alcohol exposed rats were not impaired in the rotarod/accelerod tests. Their behavior in the open field and plus maze suggested increased neophobia. Hyperactivity was not observed. In the spatial-navigation task in the water maze, by the middle of the training, fetal alcohol rats showed a tendency towards a slower place acquisition compared to controls, but statistical analysis of the data did not yield between-group differences significant. Towards the end of the training, all rats reached a similar performance level. No detectable between-group differences were noted either in memory retention after a delay, in reversal learning, or in working memory task. Our findings demonstrate that the adverse behavioral effects of a binge-like alcohol administration during half of the first and throughout the second trimester equivalent are difficult to be disclosed in young-adult male Wistar rats. The possible reasons of the lack of significant behavioral deficits in the fetal-alcohol rats observed in the present study are discussed. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.