Similar anxiety-like responses in male and female rats exposed to repeated withdrawals from ethanol

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004 Jul;78(3):459-64. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2004.04.018.


Previous research indicated that male rats exhibited anxiety-like behavior following withdrawal from chronic ethanol exposure. This behavior, as well as other symptoms of withdrawal such as seizure susceptibility, may be sensitized in male rats repeatedly withdrawn from chronic ethanol exposure. Because there are sex differences in some alcohol effects, the present study explored whether male and female rats would respond differently to a course of repeated ethanol withdrawals. Similarly aged male and female rats were exposed to a control liquid diet or a diet containing ethanol (7% w/v). Ethanol-exposed rats had only one 5-day cycle of exposure or three cycles, with 2 days of control diet (CD) between cycles. At 5 h after the final ethanol was removed, the rats were placed as same-sexed pairs in the social interaction test; approximately half of the rats were tested later in the elevated plus maze. Rats withdrawn from ethanol after three cycles exhibited reduced the time spent in social interaction and general activity in the social interaction test and reduced the open and closed arm entries in the elevated plus maze. There were no sex differences in these effects. However, male rats exhibited a small anxiety-like response after one cycle of 5 days' exposure to ethanol and female rats did not. Thus, there are no sex differences in the three-cycle multiple-withdrawal paradigm, but there may be differences after briefer exposures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology


  • Ethanol