Document Type


Date of Award

Spring 4-18-2024

Degree Name

Psychology (BA)



First Advisor

Florence Varodayan

Second Advisor

Anushree Karkhanis

Third Advisor

Marvin Diaz


Science and Mathematics

Subject Heading(s)

Ethanol--adverse effects ; Astrocytes--drug effects


The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is one of several brain structures that is contained in the mesolimbocortical pathway and controls many processes involved in alcohol use disorder (AUD). There is vast glutamatergic output from the mPFC to other mesolimbocortical regions; neuroplastic changes to this system are believed to be closely tied to the development and maintenance of AUD. Astrocytes are key regulators of glutamatergic transmission through their uptake of excess glutamate from the synapse and recycling back into neurons. Ethanol (EtOH) alters the expression of astrocytic genes that encode for transporters that control glutamate homeostasis; these include the glutamate transporter-1 (GLT-1), the cystine-glutamate antiporter (xCT), the glutamate-aspartate transporter (GLAST), and the type 1 equilibrative nucleoside transporter (ENT-1). The present study examined the effects of acute and repeated EtOH exposure on the mRNA expression of the aforementioned transporters in the mPFC of adult male and female mice using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). We found a significant elevation in the mRNA levels of xCT in the male repeated exposure groups compared to the acute exposure and control groups. Additionally, we found a significant reduction in the mRNA levels for GLT-1 in the female repeated exposure group compared to the control group. Lastly, we found no correlation between blood ethanol concentration at sacrifice and the gene expression for any of the assayed transporters in both males and females. This study contributes to the body of knowledge regarding the complex relationship between EtOH, glutamate, and astrocytes. However, further work is required to deduce the sex-specific and time-dependent effects of EtOH on astrocyte-modulated glutamate signaling.