, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 79-89

The total numbers of cerebellar granule neurons in young and aged Fischer 344 and Wistar-Kyoto rats do not change as a result of lengthy ethanol treatment

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Abstract

It is generally accepted that long term chronic ethanol consumption by young rats will lead to significant losses of cerebellar granule neurons (GN). A recent study in this laboratory showed, however, that 40 weeks of chronic ethanol consumption had no effect on the total numbers of GN in aged Fischer 344 rats (F344). The goals of the present study were to determine whether F344 GN were resistant to ethanol toxicity only in aged rats and whether resistance of GN in aged rats to ethanol toxicity occurred only in the F344 strain. To accomplish those goals, young and aged adult F344 and Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats were treated chronically with ethanol for 40 weeks during the first or second half of their life span. In each rat the total numbers of GN were estimated with the optical fractionator and the volumes of the GN layer were estimated according to Cavalieri’s theorem. After the 40 weeks of ethanol, there were significant age-related differences in the total numbers of GN in the F344 rats. There were also significant strainrelated differences in the total numbers of GN and volumes of the GN layer. There were no significant ethanol-related differences, however, in numbers of cerebellar GN or volumes of the GN layer in F344 rats or WKY rats. The results presented here show that consumption of ethanol over long periods of time had no effect on the total numbers of cerebellar GN or the granular layer volumes in young or aged F344 or WKY rats.