Adolescent binge drinking represents a major public health challenge and can lead to persistent neurological and mental conditions, but the underlying pathogenic mechanisms remain poorly understood. Using a mouse model of adolescent binge ethanol treatment (ABET), we found that this treatment induced behavioral changes associated with demyelination in different brain regions. After ABET, adolescent mice exhibited anxiogenic behaviors with no change in locomotion on the elevated plus maze, and impaired spatial memory indicated by a significant reduction in spontaneous alternation in the Y maze test. Both effects persisted into adulthood. Anatomical studies further showed that ABET induced a significant reduction of parvalbumin-positive (PV+) GABAergic interneurons and myelin density in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). While these deficits in PV+ interneurons and myelin persisted into early adulthood in the hippocampus, the myelin density recovered in the mPFC. Moreover, whereas ABET mainly damaged myelin of PV+ axons in the hippocampus, it primarily damaged myelin of PV-negative axons in the mPFC. Thus, our findings reveal that an adolescent binge alcohol treatment regimen disrupts spatial working memory, increases anxiety-like behaviors, and exerts unique temporal and spatial patterns of gray matter demyelination in the hippocampus and mPFC.
Keywords: Adolescent binge ethanol treatment (ABET); Anxiety; Gray matter myelin; Hippocampus; Medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC); Parvalbumin-positive (PV+) GABAergic interneuron.