Agmatine reduces ultrasonic vocalization deficits in female rat pups exposed neonatally to ethanol

Kristen Wellmann, Ben Lewis, Susan Barron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Rat pups, in isolation, produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs). These USVs have been used as a diagnostic tool for developmental toxicity. We have shown that neonatal ethanol (ETOH) exposure produces deficits in this behavior. The current study was designed to examine whether agmatine (AG), which binds to imidazoline receptors and modulates n-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDAR), could reduce these deficits. In addition, this study examined critical periods for ETOH's effects on USVs by administering ETOH during either the 1st or 2nd postnatal week. Neonatal rats received intragastric intubations of either ETOH (6 g/kg/day), ETOH and AG (6 g/kg/day and 20 mg/kg/day), AG (20 mg/kg/day), or maltose on postnatal days (PND) 1-7 or 8-14. A non-intubated control was also included. Subjects were tested on PND 15. Neonatal ETOH exposure significantly increased the latency to vocalize for females and reduced the rate of USVs in both males and females exposed to ETOH on PND 1-7. Agmatine reduced these deficits, in female but not male pups. Subjects exposed to ETOH on PND 8-14 showed no evidence of abnormal USVs. These findings suggest that there may be gender differences in response to AG following neonatal ETOH exposure and also provide further support that the first neonatal week is a particularly sensitive time for the developmentally toxic effects of ETOH in rodents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-163
Number of pages6
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank William Stewart III, Pooja Krishnappa, and Greg Hardin for their assistance in data collection, and Clay Adams for the supply of polyethylene tubing. This research was supported, in part, by NIAAA Grant # AA-014032 to SB.


  • Agmatine
  • Fetal alcohol
  • Maternal-infant communication
  • NMDA
  • Polyamines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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