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Keywords:

  • Adverse consequences;
  • alcoholism;
  • drinking;
  • genetic animal models;
  • tolerance;
  • withdrawal

In biomedical research, one key stage of translating basic science knowledge to clinical practice is the reconciliation of phenotypes employed for laboratory animal studies with those important for the clinical condition. Alcohol dependence (AD) is a prototypic complex genetic trait. There is a long history of behaviour-genetic studies of AD in both human subjects and various genetic animal models. This review assesses the state of the art in our understanding of the genetic contributions to AD. In particular, it primarily focuses on the phenotypes studied in mouse genetic animal models, comparing them to the aspects of the human condition they are intended to target. It identifies several features of AD where genetic animal models have been particularly useful, and tries to identify understudied areas where there is good promise for further genetic animal model work.