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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Scott E. Bowen


Inhalants, such as toluene, are one of the most commonly reported drugs of abuse among early adolescents with approximately 1 in 11 (9%) 8th graders reporting trying inhalants and roughly 1 in 50 (2.1%) reporting use in the past month (Miech et al., 2016). Drug use during adolescence can have lasting neurobiological and neurobehavioral consequences including, impaired decision-making, increased risk taking, and increased drug use. Despite toluene’s potent central nervous system (CNS) depressant effects, there is a dearth of systematic investigations on what effect binge-toluene exposure during adolescence may have on the use or effect of other drugs of abuse later in life (cross sensitization). This study exposed adolescent Swiss-Webster mice during postnatal days (PND) 28-32 to 0, 2000, or 4000 parts per million (ppm) of toluene vapor for 30 minutes per day. Mice (PND 35) were randomly separated into two behavioral assays: Conditioned Place Preference (CPP) or Locomotor Activity (LMA) in response to a cumulative dose drug challenge. With CPP, subjects were conditioned to one of three levels of ethanol (0, 2, and 4 g/kg) or one of three levels of cocaine (0, 10, or 20 mg/ml). For the LMA drug challenge procedure, subjects were exposed to increasing concentrations of ethanol (0, 0.5, 1, 2, 4 g/kg); cocaine (0, 2.5, 5, 10, 20 mg/kg) or they received five injections ofsaline (control). My hypothesis was that toluene exposure within the periadolescent period would result in an increase in place preference and increases in activity (characterized as sensitization) to ethanol and cocaine in a dose-dependent manner in mice. These results would support the idea that exposure to toluene changes the reactions to later drug use and may make individuals more prone to drug abuse later in life resulting in a more vulnerable population.

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