Alcohol-induced retrograde memory impairment in rats: prevention by caffeine
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Ethanol and caffeine are two of the most widely consumed drugs in the world, often used in the same setting. Animal models may help to understand the conditions under which incidental memories formed just before ethanol intoxication might be lost or become difficult to retrieve.
Ethanol-induced retrograde amnesia was investigated using a new odor-recognition test.
Materials and methods
Rats thoroughly explored a wood bead taken from the cage of another rat, and habituated to this novel odor (N1) over three trials. Immediately following habituation, rats received saline, 25 mg/kg pentylenetetrazol (a seizure-producing agent known to cause retrograde amnesia) to validate the test, 1.0 g/kg ethanol, or 3.0 g/kg ethanol. The next day, they were presented again with N1 and also a bead from a new rat’s cage (N2).
Rats receiving saline or the lower dose of ethanol showed overnight memory for N1, indicated by preferential exploration of N2 over N1. Rats receiving pentylenetetrazol or the higher dose of ethanol appeared not to remember N1, in that they showed equal exploration of N1 and N2. Caffeine (5 mg/kg), delivered either 1 h after the higher dose of ethanol or 20 min prior to habituation to N1, negated ethanol-induced impairment of memory for N1. A combination of a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor and an adenosine A2A antagonist, mimicking two major mechanisms of action of caffeine, likewise prevented the memory impairment, though either drug alone had no such effect. Binge alcohol can induce retrograde, caffeine-reversible disruption of social odor memory storage or recall.