Relationship of membrane physical properties to alcohol dependence in mice selected for genetic differences in alcohol withdrawal

R. Adron Harris, John C. Crabbe, John D. McSwigan

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18 Scopus citations


Genetic selection based on severity of withdrawal seizures following inhalation of ethanol vapor has produced two lines of mice, WSR (withdrawal seizure resistant) and WSP (withdrawal seizure prone), that differ markedly in withdrawal signs. In the present study, we report that these mice also differed in the severity of withdrawal seizures following consumption of an ethanol-containing liquid diet but did not differ in ethanol intake. In contrast to ethanol withdrawal seizures, the lines displayed similar sensitivity to electrical- or pentylenetetrazole-induced seizures. These results suggest that the lines differ in the development of physical dependence on ethanol rather than seizure sensitivity per se. Because decreased synaptic membrane fluidity has been associated with ethanol dependence, we used fluorescence polarization of diphenylhexatriene and trimethylammonium-diphenylhexatriene to evaluate membrane fluidity in WSP and WSR mice fed lab chow, an ethanol-containing liquid diet, or an isocaloric sucrose-containing liquid diet. Fluidity of brain synaptic membranes was identical for WSP and WSR mice fed lab chow. The control liquid diet did not alter membrane fluidity, and the ethanol diet decreased fluidity equally for WSP and WSR mice. Thus, the genetic difference in development of ethanol dependence found in these lines was not reflected in the physical properties of brain membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2601-2608
Number of pages8
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 24 1984


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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