We have recently identified hippocampal cell death and reduced neuronal and glial cells densities during adolescent nicotine and ethanol exposures and outcomes reduced in severity when nicotine and ethanol are co-administered during this developmental period. In the present study, we investigated the effects of adolescent nicotine and/or ethanol withdrawal on the following regions of the hippocampus: Granular layer of the Dentate Gyrus (GrDG), Molecular layer (Mol), CA1, CA2 and CA3. From the 30th to the 45th postnatal day (PN30-PN45), C57BL/6 male and female mice were exposed to nicotine free base (NIC) and/or ethanol (ETOH). Four groups were analyzed: (1) concomitant NIC (50 microg/ml in 2% saccharin to drink) and ETOH (25%, 2 g/kg i.p. injected every other day) exposure; (2) NIC exposure; (3) ETOH exposure; (4) vehicle. We evaluated cell degeneration (TUNEL assay), neuronal and glial densities (optical Disector) and region thicknesses two (PN47) and five (PN50) days post-exposure. On PN47, there were increases in the number of TUNEL+ cells in most hippocampal regions of both ETOH and NIC groups. In the NIC+ETOH group there were less severe effects. These results were paralleled by reductions in neuronal and glial cells densities for all treatment groups. In contrast, on PN50, ethanol and/or nicotine withdrawal were associated with compensatory reductions in TUNEL+ cells in all hippocampal regions. These results were paralleled by a reversal of effects on neuronal and glial densities so that there were no longer differences between groups. There were no effects on region thicknesses. These results suggest that deleterious effects of nicotine and/or ethanol are reversed during prolonged withdrawal.
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