Effects of ethanol on startle responding in alcohol-preferring and -non-preferring rats

A. E. Jones, W. J. McBride, J. M. Murphy, L. Lumeng, T. K. Li, A. Shekhar, D. L. McKinzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


The objectives of the present study were to determine (a) if differences exist between the selectively bred alcohol-preferring (P) and -non-preferring (NP) lines of rats in the acoustic startle response (ASR) and prepulse inhibition (PPI), and (b) the effects of ethanol on these measures. Alcohol-naive adult female P and NP rats received a single i.p. injection of saline or ethanol (0.25, 0.5, 1.0, or 1.5 g/kg) and were placed in the startle apparatus 10 min later. After a 5-min acclimation period, rats received five alternating trials of a startle stimulus alone (SSA) (115-dB white noise) or a PPI trial (90-dB white noise preceding a 115-dB white noise). Analysis of the ASR revealed that P rats exhibited higher startle amplitudes than did NP rats with saline injections. The 0.5-g/kg ethanol dose reduced the startle amplitude in P, but not NP, rats. The 1.0- and 1.5-g/kg ethanol doses nearly abolished the ASR in the NP line, whereas only the highest ethanol dose had this effect in the P line. Vehicle-treated P and NP rats exhibited comparable PPI levels, but only P rats showed a significant disruption (30%) at the 0.50-g/kg ethanol dose. Neither P nor NP rats were affected by ethanol treatment at the 0.25-g/kg dose. Overall, the results suggest that: (a) the difference in baseline ASR may indicate line differences in the neurocircuitry mediating this response, possibly reflecting higher innate levels of emotional reactivity in the P line; (b) the P line may be more sensitive than the NP line to the effects of ethanol in reducing emotional reactivity; and (c) low-dose ethanol may have a greater disruptive effect on sensorimotor gating mechanisms in the P than NP rat. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-318
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000


  • Acoustic startle response
  • Alcohol-non-preferring NP rats
  • Alcohol-preferring P rats
  • Anxiety
  • Prepulse inhibition
  • Sensorimotor gating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of ethanol on startle responding in alcohol-preferring and -non-preferring rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this