Adolescent alcohol exposure may increase anxiety-like behaviors by altering central monoaminergic functions and other important neuronal pathways. The present study was designed to investigate the anxiolytic effect of 0.5% γ-oryzanol (GORZ) and its neurochemical and molecular mechanisms under chronic 10% ethanol consumption. Five-week-old ICR male mice received either control (14% casein, AIN 93 M) or GORZ (14% casein, AIN 93 M + 0.5% GORZ) diets in this study. We showed that GORZ could potentially attenuate alcohol-induced anxiety-like behaviors by significantly improving the main behavioral parameters measured by the elevated plus maze test. Moreover, GORZ treatment significantly restored the alcohol-induced downregulation of 5-hydroxytryptophan and 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid in the hippocampus and improved homovanillic acid levels in the cerebral cortex. Furthermore, a recovery increase in the level of 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol both in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex supported the anxiolytic effect of GORZ. The significant elevation and reduction in the hippocampus of relative mRNA levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and interleukin 1β, respectively, also showed the neuroprotective role of GORZ in ethanol-induced anxiety. Altogether, these results suggest that 0.5% GORZ is a promising neuroprotective drug candidate with potential anxiolytic, neurogenic, and anti-neuroinflammatory properties for treating adolescent alcohol exposure.
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