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Ketamine administration during a critical period after forced ethanol abstinence inhibits the development of time-dependent affective disturbances

Neuropsychopharmacologyvolume 43pages19151923 (2018) | Download Citation


Forced abstinence from chronic two bottle-choice ethanol drinking produces the development of negative affective states in female C57BL/6J mice. We previously reported that this disrupted behavior is acutely reversed by administration of ketamine 30 min-prior to testing. Here we assessed whether ketamine can be used as an inoculant against the development of abstinence- dependent affective disturbances. In parallel, we examined the impact of ketamine administration on long-term potentiation (LTP) in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a region implicated in affective disturbances. We administered ketamine (3 mg/kg i.p.) to female C57BL/6J mice with a history of chronic ethanol drinking at either the onset, two, or 6 days- post-abstinence and observed its impact on affective behavior in the elevated plus maze (EPM), the Novelty Suppressed Feeding Test (NSFT), and the Forced Swim Test (FST). In addition, we assessed BNST synaptic plasticity with field potential electrophysiology two to 3 weeks into abstinence. We found that early abstinence was associated with disrupted behavior on the EPM. Ketamine administered at the onset of forced abstinence prevented both the deficit in early EPM behavior, and the delayed deficits in NSFT and FST. However, ketamine administered either two or 6 days post-abstinence failed to prevent the abstinence-induced affective disturbances. To begin to explore potential alterations in neural circuit activity that accompanies these actions of ketamine, we assessed the impact of ketamine administration at the onset of forced abstinence and measured LTP induction in the BNST. We find that early ketamine administration persistently increased the capacity for LTP within the BNST. These findings suggest a critical period at the onset of forced abstinence in which ketamine inoculation can prevent the development of affective disturbances, in part by enhancing plasticity within the BNST.

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NIH grant support for this work was provided by R01 AA019455 (DGW), and T32 MH065215.

Author information


  1. Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA

    • Oliver Vranjkovic
    •  & Danny G. Winder
  2. Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA

    • Oliver Vranjkovic
    •  & Danny G. Winder
  3. Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA

    • Oliver Vranjkovic
    • , Garrett Winkler
    •  & Danny G. Winder
  4. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA

    • Danny G. Winder
  5. Department of Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA

    • Danny G. Winder


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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Danny G. Winder.

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