Background: Alcohol use is common during the adolescent period, a time at which a number of crucial neurobiological, hormonal, and behavioral changes occur (Spear, 2000). In order to more fully understand the complex interaction between alcohol use and these age-typical neurobiological changes, animal models must be utilized. Rodents experience a developmental period similar to that of adolescence. Although rat models have shown striking adolescent-specific differences in sensitivity to ethanol, little work has been done in mice despite the fact that the C57BL/6J (B6) and DBA2/J (D2) mice have been shown to markedly differ in ethanol preference drinking and exhibit widely different sensitivities to ethanol.
Methods: The current study examined ethanol intake in adolescent and adult B6 and D2 mice using a limited access alcohol exposure paradigm called Drinking in the Dark (DID). Additionally, the effect of adolescent (or adult) ethanol exposure on subsequent adult ethanol intake was examined by re-exposing the mice to the same paradigm once the adolescents reached adulthood. We hypothesized that adolescent (P25–45) mice would exhibit greater binge-like alcohol intake compared to adults (P60–80), and that B6 mice would exhibit greater binge-like alcohol intake compared to D2 mice. Moreover, we predicted that relative difference in binge-like alcohol intake between adolescents and adults would be greater in D2 mice.
Results: Adolescent B6 mice consumed more ethanol than adults in the DID model. There was no difference between adolescent and adult D2 mice.
Conclusions: This work adds to the literature suggesting that adolescents will consume more ethanol than adults and that this exposure can result in altered adult intake. However, this effect seems largely dependent upon genotype. Future work will continue to examine age-related differences in ethanol intake, preference, and sensitivity in inbred mouse strains.