Gender-selective effects of ethanol dependence on NMDA receptor subunit expression in cerebral cortex, hippocampus and hypothalamus

Eur J Pharmacol. 1999 Mar 26;369(3):331-4. doi: 10.1016/s0014-2999(99)00103-x.


Previous investigations have shown subunit-selective alterations in NMDA receptors in ethanol dependent male rats. In the present study, we found pronounced gender differences in the effects of ethanol dependence on NMDA receptor subunit expression in all brain regions investigated. Ethanol dependent female rats exhibited increased NR1 subunit levels in cerebral cortex and hypothalamus, whereas males displayed increased NR1 levels only in hippocampus. NR2A subunit levels were significantly increased only in hippocampus from ethanol dependent male rats, whereas NR2B subunit levels significantly increased in cerebral cortex of both female and male rats. These findings suggest that gender influences neuroadaptations elicited by ethanol dependence at the level of NMDA receptor subunit expression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects*
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / drug effects*
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / genetics*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Substance-Related Disorders*


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Ethanol