Intermittent ethanol abuse or ‘binge drinking’ during adolescence induces neuronal damage, which may be associated with cognitive dysfunction. To investigate the neurochemical processes involved, rats were administered either 1 g/kg or 2 g/kg ethanol in a ‘binge drinking’ regime. After only 3 weeks, significant activation of phagocytic cells in the peripheral (alveolar macrophages) and the hippocampal brain region (microglia cells) was present, as exemplified by increases in the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the macrophages and of iNOS in the microglia. This was associated with neuronal loss in the hippocampus CA1 region. Daily supplementation with a taurine prodrug, ethane-β-sultam, 0.028 g/kg, during the intermittent ethanol loading regime, supressed the release of the pro-inflammatory cytokines and of reactive nitrogen species, as well as neuronal loss, particularly in the rats administered the lower dose of ethanol, 1 g/kg. Plasma, macrophage and hippocampal taurine levels increased marginally after ethane-β-sultam supplementation. The ‘binge drinking’ ethanol rats administered 1 g/kg ethanol showed increased latencies to those of the control rats in their acquisition of spacial navigation in the Morris Water Maze, which was normalised to that of the controls values after ethane-β-sultam administration.
Such results confirm that the administration of ethane-β-sultam to binge drinking rats reduces neuroinflammation in both the periphery and the brain, suppresses neuronal loss, and improved working memory of rats in a water maze study.