Temperature dependence of ethanol depression in rats

D. A. Finn, D. C. Boone, R. L. Alkana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The relationship between ambient temperature, body temperature, and brain sensitivity to ethanol was investigated in rats. Drug naive male Long Evans rats were injected IP with a hypnotic dose of ethanol (2.75 g/kg, 20% w/v). Immediately after injection, separate groups were exposed to one of five ambient temperatures from 12 to 34° C. Ambient temperature significantly affected wake-up rectal temperature, sleep-time, and wake-up brain ethanol concentration. Sleep-times in individual rats increased 387% (from 24.0 min at 12° C to 116.8 min at 34° C) and wake-up brain ethanol concentrations decreased 79% (from 3.6 mg/g at 12° C to 2.3 mg/g at 34° C) as body temperatures increased from 35 to 41° C. In addition, wake-up rectal temperatures were significantly, positively correlated with sleep-times (r=0.32, P<0.05) and significantly, negatively correlated with wake-up brain ethanol concentrations (r=-0.49, P<0.01), further suggesting that brain sensitivity to ethanol increases as body temperature increases. These results are consistent with previous findings in mice, fit membrane perturbation theories of anesthesia, and indicate that temperature dependence of ethanol sensitivity is a general phenomenon extending across species. In conjunction with previous findings, the results also suggest that body temperature during intoxication may participate in mediating species differences in ethanol sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-189
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1986
Externally publishedYes


  • Body temperature
  • Ethanol
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Hypothermia
  • Poikilothermia
  • Rats
  • Sleep-time
  • Temperature dependence of anesthesia
  • Theories of anesthesia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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