Serotonin and genetic differences in sensitivity and tolerance to ethanol hypothermia

Daniel J. Feller, Emmett R. Young, John P. Riggan, Janice Stuart, John C. Crabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Mice have been selectively bred for genetic sensitivity (COLD) or insensitivity (HOT) to acute ethanol-induced hypothermia. COLD mice readily develop tolerance to the hypothermic effects of ethanol (EtOH) when it is chronically administered, while HOT mice do not. A number of studies have implicated serotonergic systems in both sensitivity and the development of tolerance to the hypothermic and ataxic effects of EtOH. In the experiments reported here, we administered the serotonin (5HT) neurotoxin 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT) to HOT and COLD mice before the acute and chronic administration of equipotent doses of EtOH. 5,7-DHT lesions significantly reduced (by about 65%) whole brain levels of 5HT in both selected lines. This treatment reduced sensitivity to acute EtOH hypothermia in COLD, but not in HOT mice, and blocked the development of tolerance only in COLD mice. Metabolites of 5HT, norepinephrine, and dopamine were generally increased in hypothalamic and brain stem tissue after acute EtOH injection, but HOT and COLD mice were not differentially susceptible to these effects. These results suggest that genes affecting 5HT systems may mediate some of the differences in response to the hypothermic effects of EtOH characterizing HOT and COLD mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-338
Number of pages8
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethanol hypothermia
  • HOT and COLD mice
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Selective breeding
  • Serotonin
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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