Ethanol and nitrous oxide produce withdrawal-induced convulsions by similar mechanisms in mice

J. K. Belknap, S. E. Laursen, J. C. Crabbe

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49 Scopus citations


Twenty generations of selective breeding were used to produce lines (strains) of mice which differ markedly from one another in ethanol physical dependence development as indexed by handling-induced convulsions (HIC) induced by withdrawal from ethanol. These withdrawal seizure prone (WSP) and withdrawal seizure resistant (WSR) selection lines now differ by over 10-fold in HIC scores after equivalent exposure to intoxicating levels of ethanol via inhalation. Since handling-induced convulsions can be readily elicited following withdrawal from nitrous oxide, we sought to determine if the very large differences in ethanol withdrawal-induced HIC bred into these selection lines would generalize to nitrous oxide. Following a 60 min exposure to 75% nitrous oxide (in O2), a greater than 10-fold difference in HIC nitrous oxide 2-fold difference in tremor incidence was seen upon withdrawal in WSP vs. WSR mice. These findings closely parallel those seen with ethanol, and demonstrate that a large degree of commonality exists in the genes and the mechanisms determining these withdrawal signs. HIC elicited by nitrous oxide withdrawal were readily suppressed by ethanol, and HIC elicited by ethanol withdrawal were promptly suppressed by 75% nitrous oxide in WSP mice. Nitrous oxide also suppressed HIC and tremor associated with nitrous oxide withdrawal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2033-2040
Number of pages8
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number17
StatePublished - Oct 26 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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