• Conditioned place preference;
  • ethanol;
  • F1 hybrids;
  • hypothermia;
  • inbred strains;
  • intake;
  • maternal effects

Variations in maternal behavior, either occurring naturally or in response to experimental manipulations, have been shown to exert long-lasting consequences on offspring behavior and physiology. Despite previous research examining the effects of developmental manipulations on drug-related phenotypes, few studies have specifically investigated the influence of strain-based differences in maternal behavior on drug responses in mice. The current experiments used reciprocal F1 hybrids of two inbred mouse strains (i.e. DBA/2J and C57BL/6J) that differ in both ethanol (EtOH) responses and maternal behavior to assess the effects of maternal environment on EtOH-related phenotypes. Male and female DBA/2J and C57BL/6J mice and their reciprocal F1 hybrids reared by either DBA/2J or C57BL/6J dams were tested in adulthood for EtOH intake (choice, forced), EtOH-induced hypothermia, EtOH-induced activity and EtOH-induced conditioned place preference (CPP). C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mice showed differences on all EtOH responses. Consistent with previous reports that maternal strain can influence EtOH intake, F1 hybrids reared by C57BL/6J dams consumed more EtOH during forced exposure than did F1 hybrids reared by DBA/2J dams. Maternal strain also influenced EtOH-induced hypothermic responses in F1 hybrids, producing differences in hybrid mice that paralleled those of the inbred strains. In contrast, maternal strain did not influence EtOH-induced activity or CPP in hybrid mice. The current findings indicate that maternal environment may contribute to variance in EtOH-induced hypothermia and EtOH intake, although effects on EtOH intake appear to be dependent upon the type of EtOH exposure.