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Alcohol binge drinking decreases brain glucose metabolism and functional connectivity in adolescent rats


Alcohol misuse represents a serious health concern, especially during adolescence, with approximately 18% of high school students engaging in binge drinking. Despite widespread misuse of alcohol, its effects on how the brain functions is not fully understood. This study utilized a binge drinking model in adolescent rats to examine effects on brain function as measured by brain glucose metabolism (BGluM). Following an injection of [18 FDG] fluro-2-deoxy-D-glucose, rats had voluntary access to either water or various concentrations of ethanol to obtain the following targeted doses: water (no ethanol), low dose ethanol (0.29 ± 0.03 g/kg), moderate dose ethanol (0.98 ± 0.05), and high dose ethanol (2.19 ± 0.23 g/kg). Rats were subsequently scanned using positron emission tomography. All three doses of ethanol were found to decrease BGluM in the restrosplenial cortex, visual cortex, jaw region of the somatosensory cortex, and cerebellum. For both the LD and MD ethanol dose, decreased BGluM was seen in the superior colliculi. The MD ethanol dose also decreased BGluM in the subiculum, frontal association area, as well as the primary motor cortex. Lastly, the HD ethanol dose decreased BGluM in the hippocampus, thalamus, raphe nucleus, inferior colliculus, and the primary motor cortex. Similar decreases in the hippocampus were also seen in the LD group. Taken together, these results highlight the negative consequences of acute binge drinking on BGluM in many regions of the brain involved in sensory, motor, and cognitive processes. Future studies are needed to assess the long-term effects of alcohol binge drinking on brain function as well as its cessation.

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This work was supported by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (#RIAQ0094).

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Authors and Affiliations



CR: Investigation, Data curation, Writing, Formal analysis, Visualization. JH: Writing, Visualization, Formal analysis. KR: Supervision, Writing. MS: Resources. RY: Resources. PT: Conceptualization, Resources, Writing, Supervision, Project administration, Funding acquisition.

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Correspondence to Panayotis K. Thanos.

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All experiments were conducted in conformity with the National Academy of Science Guide for Care and Use Laboratory Animals and approved by the University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

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Rapp, C., Hamilton, J., Richer, K. et al. Alcohol binge drinking decreases brain glucose metabolism and functional connectivity in adolescent rats. Metab Brain Dis 37, 1901–1908 (2022).

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  • Brain glucose metabolism
  • Alcohol
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Binge drinking
  • Addiction