Background: The acute locomotor effects of voluntary ethanol (EtOH) intake in mice (stimulation/sedation) might be important behavioral indicators of an animals’ propensity to engage in EtOH consumption and/or EtOH seeking behaviors. Using a binge-like EtOH intake model dubbed “Drinking-in-the-Dark (DID),” we recently observed home cage locomotor stimulation in C57BL/6J mice during an acute EtOH intake session, but acute home cage locomotor sedation following repeated EtOH exposures. To determine the role of novelty and/or EtOH history on these previously described locomotor effects, and to determine the relationship between these variables on locomotor activity immediately following DID intake, we conducted 2 separate experiments.
Methods: In experiment 1, mice were given access to either EtOH or water, and locomotor activity was monitored immediately afterwards. In experiment 2, mice were given 13 days access to EtOH or water solution while home cage locomotor activity was monitored. On the 14th day, half of the water consuming animals received EtOH access for the first time. On the 15th day, all animals received EtOH access, and locomotion was assessed afterwards in locomotor activity testing chambers.
Results: In experiment 1, locomotor activity following DID was positively associated with EtOH intake and blood EtOH concentrations (BECs). In experiment 2, the group that received EtOH for the first time on the 14th day did not display locomotor stimulation. Locomotor activity following DID EtOH intake was positively associated with BECs in all groups regardless of EtOH history.
Conclusions: These results suggest that (i) DID-induced locomotor stimulation in the home cage may involve relative familiarity with the DID procedures, and (ii) locomotor stimulation immediately following DID is directly related to the relative concentration of EtOH in blood; an effect that is not altered by prior EtOH history. These data add new evidence of the pharmacological actions of binge-like EtOH intake, and provide a basis by which we may explore the motivation and consequences of such binge consumption.