Intermittent hypoxia training: Powerful, non-invasive cerebroprotection against ethanol withdrawal excitotoxicity

Marianna E. Jung, Robert T. Mallet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Ethanol intoxication and withdrawal exact a devastating toll on the central nervous system. Abrupt ethanol withdrawal provokes massive release of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, which over-activates its postsynaptic receptors, causing intense Ca2+ loading, p38 mitogen activated protein kinase activation and oxidative stress, culminating in ATP depletion, mitochondrial injury, amyloid β deposition and neuronal death. Collectively, these mechanisms produce neurocognitive and sensorimotor dysfunction that discourages continued abstinence. Although the brain is heavily dependent on blood-borne O2 to sustain its aerobic ATP production, brief, cyclic episodes of moderate hypoxia and reoxygenation, when judiciously applied over the course of days or weeks, evoke adaptations that protect the brain from ethanol withdrawal-induced glutamate excitotoxicity, mitochondrial damage, oxidative stress and amyloid β accumulation. This review summarizes evidence from ongoing preclinical research that demonstrates intermittent hypoxia training to be a potentially powerful yet non-invasive intervention capable of affording robust, sustained neuroprotection during ethanol withdrawal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Amyloid β
  • Ethanol intoxication
  • Excitotoxicity
  • Glutamate
  • Heat shock protein 25
  • P38
  • Presenilin 1
  • Reactive oxygen species


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