Several studies suggest that pregnancy can reduce ethanol preference and consumption in rats and mice when self-administration starts early during pregnancy (Randall et al., 1980; Means and Goy, 1982). Our first aim was to explore the effect of pregnancy on long-term habit to ethanol, in female rats subjected to 12-week continuous or intermittent (3 days/week) access to 20% ethanol; they were named CARs and IARs respectively. The second aim was to observe their maternal behaviour. Rats were deprived from ethanol during mating and the first gestational week, and then re-exposed to respective ethanol self-administration schedule, starting from the second week of pregnancy. Maternal behaviour was assessed by periodic scoring of retrieval, nursing, pup care, dam self-care, non-maternal dams" behaviours. Alcohol preference and consumption in IARs progressively declined during last weeks of pregnancy, with respect to CARs (p<0.01; p<0.05), and compared to respective pre-pregnancy basal intake (p<0.001). Immediately after delivery, ethanol consumption significantly increased in both groups, when compared to their respective pre-pregnancy basal levels (p<0.01;p<0.05). Analysis of maternal behaviour revealed that IARs decreased retrieval, nursing and pup care frequencies (p<0.01), and conversely increased dam self-care and non-maternal behaviours (p<0.05), with respect to controls; however non-statistically significant maternal behaviour disruptions were also observed in CARs. Our data show that long-term alcohol habit is attenuated by pregnancy and increases after delivery, at higher levels than basal intake, inducing strong disrupting effects on maternal behaviour. Moreover, the intermittent pattern of consumption induces more critical neuroadaptive alterations in female brain and behaviour.
|Number of pages||0|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|