Sex differences in acute ethanol withdrawal severity after adrenalectomy and gonadectomy in Withdrawal Seizure-Prone and Withdrawal Seizure-Resistant mice

Alcohol. 2009 Aug;43(5):367-77. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2009.07.001.


Recent findings suggest that the ability of ethanol (EtOH) to increase the levels of neurosteroids with potent gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic properties can influence measures of EtOH sensitivity. Earlier studies determined that removal of the adrenals and gonads diminished the steroidogenic effect of EtOH and significantly increased acute EtOH withdrawal severity in two inbred mouse strains that differed in withdrawal severity, suggesting the contribution of anticonvulsant GABAergic steroids to acute withdrawal in intact animals. Thus, the goal of the present study was to investigate the consequence of steroid removal on acute EtOH withdrawal through excision of the adrenals and gonads, in another genetic animal model of EtOH withdrawal differences, the Withdrawal Seizure-Prone (WSP) and Withdrawal Seizure-Resistant (WSR) selected lines. Male and female WSP and WSR mice underwent surgical removal of the adrenals and gonads or no organ removal (SHAM). One to 2 weeks later, baseline handling-induced convulsions (HICs) were assessed, mice were given a 4 g/kg dose of EtOH, and HICs were measured hourly for 12 h and then at 24 h. The combination surgery significantly increased EtOH withdrawal in WSP and WSR female mice, as measured by area under the curve (AUC) and peak HIC scores. The AUC was significantly positively correlated with plasma corticosterone levels and significantly negatively correlated with progesterone levels. In contrast, surgical status did not alter withdrawal severity in male WSP and WSR mice. Overall, the increase in acute EtOH withdrawal severity in female WSP and WSR mice after adrenalectomy and gonadectomy corroborate our recent evidence that withdrawal from a high dose of EtOH can be modulated by anticonvulsant steroids produced in the periphery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / physiology*
  • Adrenalectomy
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Handling, Psychological
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Ovariectomy
  • Ovary / physiology*
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / physiopathology*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Ethanol
  • Progesterone
  • Corticosterone