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Keywords:

  • Binge drinking;
  • ethanol;
  • intermittent ethanol access;
  • mouse;
  • selective breeding;
  • withdrawal

Abstract

Experimental animals offered continuous 24-hour free choice access to ethanol rarely display voluntary ethanol consumption at levels sufficient to induce intoxication or to engender dependence. One of the simplest ways to increase voluntary ethanol intake is to impose temporal limitations on ethanol availability. Escalation of ethanol intake has been observed in both rats and mice under a variety of different schedules of alternating ethanol access and deprivation. Although such effects have been observed in a variety of rat and mouse genotypes, little is known concerning possible genetic correlations between responses to intermittent ethanol access and other ethanol-related phenotypes. In the present study, we examined the effects of intermittent ethanol access in mouse genotypes characterized by divergent responses to ethanol in other domains, including ethanol preference (C57BL/6J and C3H/HeJ mice), binge-like ethanol drinking (High Drinking in the Dark and HS/Npt mice) and ethanol withdrawal severity (Withdrawal Seizure-Prone and Withdrawal Seizure-Resistant mice). Although intermittent ethanol access resulted in escalated ethanol intake in all tested genotypes, the robustness of the effect varied across genotypes. On the other hand, we saw no evidence that the effects of intermittent access are correlated with either binge-like drinking or withdrawal severity, and only weak evidence for a genetic correlation with baseline ethanol preference. Thus, these different ethanol-related traits appear to depend on largely unique sets of genetic mediators.