Specific ethanol withdrawal seizures in genetically selected mice

John D. McSwigan, John C. Crabbe, Emmett R. Young

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26 Scopus citations


We are selectively breeding mice prone (WSP) and resistant (WSR) to ethanol withdrawal seizures assessed by handling induced convulsions (HIC). The possibility that differences between the lines in HIC scores are a result of differences in general CNS excitability not specific to ethanol withdrawal was examined. Using treatments which produce generalized seizures (electroconvulsive shock, strychnine, and flurothyl) and gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA) antagonists (picrotoxin, bicuculline, and pentylentetrazol), the ED50 for seizures was determined in the selected lines. In addition, the sensitivity of WSP and WSR mice to the anticonvulsant actions of ethanol against each treatment was determined. Neither the convulsant amperage 50 (CA50) for ECS nor the ED50 for any drug treatment differed for the selected lines. When ethanol (1.5 g/kg) was administered prior to ECS, there was a dramatic differential suppression of ECS in the lines: the CA50) of WSR mice was elevated 5-fold, whereas the CA50 of WSP mice increased only two fold. Ethanol pretreatment also elevated the ED50 for strychnine and flurothyl in WSR mice significantly more than WSP mice, but the line difference was smaller than for the anticonvulsant effect against ECS. The ED50s for the GABA antagonists were not different between the WSR and WSP lines after ethanol pretreatment. We conclude that genetic selection is producing lines of mice that differ specifically in the degree of seizure severity caused by withdrawal from ethanol physical dependence and not in generalized CNS excitability. An increased sensitivity to the anticonvulsant effects of ethanol against some convulsant treatments has appeared as a correlated response to selection in the WSR line.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2119-2126
Number of pages8
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 19 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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