Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 103, Issue 1–2, pp 55–67 | Cite as

Alcohol exposure during development alters hypothalamic neurotransmitter concentrations

  • S. J. Kelly
Basic Neurosciences and Genetics


The effect of exposure to alcohol during a period roughly equivalent to the human third trimester on neurotransmitter content in the rat hypothalamus was examined. The alcohol exposure was accomplished via an artificial rearing procedure. The alcohol group was exposed to 5 g/kg/day of ethanol from postnatal day (PD) 4 to 10. There was an artificially reared control group not exposed to alcohol and a normally reared control group. Noradrenaline, dopamine, homovanillic acid (HVA), 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), serotonin, and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) concentrations were measured using high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection in juvenile and adult rats. There were no effects in juvenile rats. In adult rats, alcohol exposure from PD 4 to 10 increased hypothalamic content of noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin and 5-HIAA. While adult females had greater amounts of hypothalamic serotonin and 5-HIAA than adult males, there were no interactions of sex with alcohol exposure. These results suggest that hypothalamic function is seriously disrupted by alcohol exposure during development.


Fetal Alcohol Syndrome hypothalamus catecholamines 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. J. Kelly
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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