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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Behavioral effects of toluene in rats selectively bred for infantile vocalization rate.

Glue sniffing is epidemic among children living in poverty in Latin America. Previous research has shown that abused inhalants such as toluene share pharmacological properties with anxiolytic drugs, and that personality factors such as degree of anxiety have been proposed to modulate the effects of these drugs. To study this interaction in an animal model, rats selectively bred for high (High) or low (Low) rates of distress calls after maternal separation (ultrasonic vocalizations, USVs) were used to investigate toluene's acute and long-term effects on two measures of anxiety behavior. At ten days of age, neonatal subjects were administered toluene (1 g/kg i.p.) and USVs were recorded. The subjects were retested as juveniles on an elevated plus maze to examine sequela of earlier toluene exposure. Acute toluene administration reduced USVs relative to control groups in neonates of both lines, indicating anxiolysis. As expected, Lows had reduced USVs relative to Highs. At 28 days of age, Highs spent more time in the open arms of the elevated plus maze than Lows. However, prior neonatal toluene exposure blocked this reversal of behavioral phenotype. This suggests that early toluene exposure compromised a compensatory process occurring during this developmental period, which may have been maternally mediated. These results have implications for the effects of early drug exposure on plasticity in the developing nervous system.[1]


  1. Behavioral effects of toluene in rats selectively bred for infantile vocalization rate. Bamat, N.A., Brunelli, S.A., Kron, M.M., Schulte, A.R., Zimmerberg, B. Neurotoxicology and teratology. (2005) [Pubmed]
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