Ethanol and other drugs of abuse disrupt learning and memory processes, creating problems associated with drug use and addiction. Understanding individual factors that determine susceptibility to drug-induced cognitive deficits, such as genetic background, age, and sex, is important for prevention and treatment. Comparison of adolescent and adult mice of both sexes across inbred mouse strains can reveal age, sex, and genetic contributions to phenotypes. We treated adolescent and adult, male and female, C57BL/6J and DBA/2J inbred mice with ethanol (1 g/kg or 1.5 g/kg) or MK-801 (0.05 mg/kg or 0.1 mg/kg), an NMDA receptor antagonist, prior to fear conditioning training. Contextual and cued fear retention were tested one day and eight or nine days after training. After ethanol exposure, adult C57BL/6J mice experienced greater deficits in contextual learning than adult DBA/2J mice. C57BL/6 J adolescents were less susceptible to ethanol-induced contextual learning disruptions than C57BL/6J adults, and adolescent males of both strains exhibited greater ethanol-induced contextual learning deficits than adolescent females. After MK-801 exposure, adolescent C57BL/6J mice experienced more severe contextual learning deficits than adolescent DBA/2J mice. Both ethanol and MK-801 had greater effects on contextual learning than cued learning. Collectively, we demonstrate that genetic background contributes to contextual and cued learning outcomes after ethanol or MK-801 exposure. Further, we report age-dependent drug sensitivities that are strain-, sex-, and drug-specific, suggesting that age, sex, and genetic background interact to determine contextual and cued learning impairments after ethanol or MK-801 exposure.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience