When Two Wrongs Make a Right: The Effect of Acute and Chronic Binge Drinking on Traumatic Brain Injury Outcomes in Young Adult Female Rats

Jennaya Christensen, Eric Eyolfson, Sabrina Salberg, Dhyey Bhatt, Himanthri Weerawardhena, Jason Tabor, Richelle Mychasiuk

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug by young adults across North America. Although alcohol consumption itself incurs a risk of neurological damage, it is also a significant risk factor for traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI among young adults is described as a modern healthcare epidemic. The drastic changes occurring within their neurological networks put young adults at greater risk for developing long-term post-traumatic deficits. Contradictory findings have been indicated regarding the effects of alcohol consumption on TBI outcomes in adults, with some studies demonstrating detrimental effects, whereas others suggest neuroprotective abilities. However, little is known about the effects of alcohol consumption on TBI outcomes during the sensitive stage of early adulthood. Young adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to one of six experimental conditions: Pre-injury alcohol+TBI; Pre-injury alcohol+Sham; Pre- and Post-injury alcohol+TBI; Pre- and Post-injury alcohol+Sham; No alcohol+TBI; No alcohol+Sham. Alcohol consumption groups received an amount of 10% v/v ethanol solution based on the animals' weight. Following the injury, the rats were subjected to a behavioral test battery to assess post-concussive symptomology. Overall, chronic binge drinking significantly improved TBI outcomes related to motor coordination and balance, whereas binge drinking in general significantly decreased anxiety-like behaviors. Additionally, in many cases, chronic binge drinking appears to return the TBI animal's behavioral outcomes to levels comparable to those of the no alcohol sham animals. Thus, the results suggest that alcohol may exhibit neuroprotective abilities in the context of early adulthood TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-285
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2020


  • binge drinking
  • concussion
  • inflammation
  • late adolescence
  • pre-frontal cortex

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