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The cerebellum is widely known as a motor structure because it regulates and controls motor learning, coordination, and balance. However, it is also critical for non-motor functions such as cognitive processing, sensory discrimination, addictive behaviors and mental disorders. The cerebellum has the highest relative abundance of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNos) and is sensitive to ethanol. Although it has been demonstrated that the interaction of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and nitric oxide (NO) might play an important role in the regulation of ethanol-induced cerebellar ataxia, the molecular mechanisms through which ethanol regulates nNos function to elicit this behavioral effect have not been studied extensively. Here, we investigated the dose-dependent effects of acute ethanol treatment on motor impairment using the rotarod behavioral paradigm and the alterations of nNos mRNA expression in cerebellum, frontal cortex (FC), hippocampus and striatum. We also examined the link between acute ethanol-induced motor impairment and nNos by pharmacological manipulation of nNos function. We found that acute ethanol induced a dose-dependent elevation of ethanol blood levels which was associated with the impairment of motor coordination performance and decreased expression of cerebellar nNos. In contrast, acute ethanol increased nNos expression in FC but did not to change the expression for this enzyme in striatum and hippocampus. The effects of acute ethanol were attenuated by l-arginine, a precursor for NO and potentiated by 7-nitroindazole (7-NI), a selective inhibitor of nNos. Our data suggests that differential regulation of nNos mRNA expression in cerebellum and frontal cortex might be involved in acute ethanol-induced motor impairment. Published by Elsevier Inc.


James Auta, Eleonora Gatta, John M Davis, Huaibo Zhang, Subhash C Pandey, Alessandro Guidotti. Essential role for neuronal nitric oxide synthase in acute ethanol-induced motor impairment. Nitric oxide : biology and chemistry. 2020 Aug 01;100-101:50-56

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PMID: 32278831

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