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Keywords:

  • Animal Models;
  • Acute and Chronic Alcohol Abuse;
  • Immune Defects;
  • Organ Damage

The morbidity and mortality resulting from alcohol-related diseases globally impose a substantive cost to society. To minimize the financial burden on society and improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from the ill effects of alcohol abuse, substantial research in the alcohol field is focused on understanding the mechanisms by which alcohol-related diseases develop and progress. Since ethical concerns and inherent difficulties limit the amount of alcohol abuse research that can be performed in humans, most studies are performed in laboratory animals. This article summarizes the various laboratory models of alcohol abuse that are currently available and are used to study the mechanisms by which alcohol abuse induces organ damage and immune defects. The strengths and weaknesses of each of the models are discussed. Integrated into the review are the presentations that were made in the symposium “Methods of Ethanol Application in Alcohol Model—How Long is Long Enough” at the joint 2008 Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) and International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism (ISBRA) meeting, Washington, DC, emphasizing the importance not only of selecting the most appropriate laboratory alcohol model to address the specific goals of a project but also of ensuring that the findings can be extrapolated to alcohol-induced diseases in humans.