Effects of diazepam after short alcohol-withdrawal periods


on the May 8, 2018

Collaborative research project led by Prof. Beracochea (Université de Bordeaux, INCIA CNRS UMR 5287) to which Prof. Catherine Belzung participated

Repeated diazepam administration reversed working memory impairments and glucocorticoid alterations in the prefrontal cortex after short but not long alcohol-withdrawal periods


The study was designed to assess whether repeated administration of diazepam (Valium®, Roche)-a benzodiazepine exerting an agonist action on GABAA receptors-may alleviate both the short (1 week, 1W) and long-term (6 weeks, 6W) deleterious effects of alcohol withdrawal occurring after chronic alcohol consumption (6 months; 12% v/v) in C57/BL6 male mice. More pointedly, we first evidenced that 1W and 6W alcohol-withdrawn mice exhibited working memory deficits in a sequential alternation task, associated with sustained exaggerated corticosterone rise and decreased pCREB levels in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). In a subsequent experiment, diazepam was administered i.p. for 9 consecutive days (1 injection/day) during the alcohol withdrawal period at decreasing doses ranging from 1.0 mg/kg to 0.25 mg/kg. Diazepam was not detected in the blood of withdrawn mice at the time of memory testing, occurring 24 hours after the last diazepam injection. Repeated diazepam administration significantly improved alternation rates and normalized levels of glucocorticoids and pCREB activity in the PFC in 1W but not in 6W withdrawn mice. Thus, repeated diazepam administration during the alcohol-withdrawal period only transitorily canceled out the working memory impairments and glucocorticoid alterations in the PFC of alcohol-withdrawn animals.


Alcohol withdrawal; Benzodiazepines; Corticosterone; Hippocampus; Prefrontal cortex; Working memory

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