Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Psychology

Sub-Department

Experimental Psychology

First Advisor

Sandra J. Kelly

Abstract

Neonatal ethanol exposure significantly affected development of medial prefrontal cortex pyramidal neurons by decreasing apical dendritic length and intersections. Neurosteroid treatment affected neuronal measurements in a sex-dependent manner, with neurosteroids having minimal to no effect on females and differential effects on ethanol-treated and intubated-control males. These effects could be explained by the difference in the timing of the switch of the GABAA receptor from excitatory to inhibitory in males and females, with females switching earlier than males. A significant down-regulation of GABAA receptors in the ethanol treated groups could also have made the doses of neurosteroids used in this study insufficient. While ethanol administration during the neonatal period significantly altered neuronal development, neurosteroid treatment did not seem to counteract this deleterious effect. Future studies examining the mechanistic role of neurosteroids in ethanol-induced damage to the CNS should test the effect of multiple doses of neurosteroids and time periods of administration.

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