Increasing evidence shows that excessive alcohol consumption during adolescence increases vulnerability to alcohol use disorders in adulthood. The aim of this study was to examine differences between adolescent and adult C57BL/6J mice in drinking behavior and blood ethanol (EtOH) concentrations (BECs) after chronic EtOH exposure and withdrawal.
Male adolescent (PND = 28 to 30) and adult (PND = 70) C57BL/6J mice were allowed to consume EtOH in a 2-bottle choice paradigm (15% EtOH vs. water) for 3 weeks (Baseline drinking, Test 1, and Test 2), which were interspersed with 2 cycles (Cycles I and II) of chronic EtOH vapor or air inhalation (16 hours) and withdrawal (8 hours). BECs were determined during both cycles.
Chronic EtOH exposure led to increased EtOH intake during Test 1 and Test 2 in both adolescent and adult mice compared with air-exposed controls, and no differences between age groups were observed. During Cycle I adult mice showed higher BECs compared with adolescents. During Cycle II, BECs were lower in adult mice as compared to Cycle I, and BECs in adolescent mice did not change between the 2 cycles.
Chronic EtOH exposure followed by withdrawal periods increases EtOH consumption similarly in both adolescent and adult mice, despite differences in BECs.