Effects of acute ethanol intoxication on experimental brain injury in the rat: Neurobehavioral and phosphorus-31 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies

I. Yamakami, R. Vink, A. I. Faden, T. A. Gennarelli, R. Lenkinski, T. K. McIntosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Using the lateral fluid-percussion model of experimental brain injury in the rat, the authors investigated the effect of acute ethanol (EtOH) intoxication on cardiovascular changes, neurological motor deficits, brain bioenergetics, and mortality associated with traumatic brain injury. Two hours after gastric administration of EtOH (low dose in 20 animals, 1.5 g/kg; high dose in 28, 3.0 g/kg) or saline (equal volume), animals were subjected to a fluid-percussion brain injury centered over the left parietal cortex. These injuries were of either moderate (X= 2.2 atm; 10 animals/treatment) or high severity (X = 3.0 atm; 18 animals/saline, 10 animals/low-dose EtOH, and 18 animals/high-dose EtOH). Neurological motor function was evaluated daily over a 1-week period, while a subset of eight animals receiving high-dose EtOH and subjected to brain injury of high severity were monitored for 4 hours using phosphorus-31 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to determine intracellular pH, free magnesium, and brain cytosolic phosphorylation potential. A significant (p < 0.05) and prolonged (up to 1 hour) hypotension was observed in animals pretreated with either low- or high-dose EtOH. Neither low-dose (blood-EtOH concentration = 110 ± 40 mg/dl) nor high-dose (blood-EtOH = 340 ± 70 mg/dl) EtOH had any effect on survival or neurological motor function after moderate brain injury. Following severe brain injury, animals pretreated with high-dose (blood-EtOH concentration = 352 ± 65 mg/dl) EtOH showed a significantly increased mortality and markedly worsened neurological deficits at 24 hours postinjury. Following injury, free magnesium and cytosolic phosphorylation potential declined in both groups by approximately 50% to 60%, with no significant differences between groups with respect to these variables. In contrast, brain intracellular pH in the EtOH- treated animals was consistently higher than in the control group after injury. These data suggest that prior exposure to EtOH, particularly at high concentrations, may have detrimental effects on neurobehavioral function and survival in the acute period (up to 24 hours) after severe brain injury, and may be associated with posttraumatic cerebral alkalosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)813-821
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995


  • acute ethanol intoxication
  • bioenergetics
  • brain injury
  • ethanol
  • rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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