Gender and age at drinking onset affect voluntary alcohol consumption but neither the alcohol deprivation effect nor the response to stress in mice.
ABSTRACT Epidemiological studies suggest that initiation of alcohol drinking at an early age is associated with an increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life. Nevertheless, relatively few studies using animal models have investigated the relationship between age of onset of drinking and ethanol drinking patterns in adulthood. Besides age at drinking onset, other factors such as gender could also affect the pattern of development of alcohol consumption. In rodents, many studies have shown that females drink more than males. However, even if it is assumed that hormonal changes occurring at puberty could explain these differences, only one study performed in rats has investigated the emergence of sex-specific alcohol drinking patterns in adolescence and the transition from adolescence to adulthood. The aim of the present study was to compare the acquisition of voluntary alcohol consumption, relapse-like drinking (the Alcohol Deprivation Effect-ADE) and stress-induced alcohol drinking in male and female outbred mice that acquired alcohol consumption during adolescence or adulthood.
Separate groups of naïve female and male WSC-1 mice aged +/- 28 days (adolescents) or +/-70 days (adults) were given ad libitum access to water and 6% ethanol solution for 8 weeks (1st to 8th week) before undergoing a 2-week deprivation phase (9th and 10th week). After the deprivation period, 2-bottle preference testing (ethanol vs. water) resumed for 3 weeks (11th to 13th). During the 13th week, all animals were subjected to restraint stress for 2 consecutive days.
Over the entire time course of the experiment, ethanol intake and preference increased in females (both adults and adolescents). Adolescent animals (both females and males) showed a transient increase in alcohol consumption and preference compared to adults. However, by the end of continuous alcohol exposure (when all mice were adults), ethanol intake was not affected by age at drinking onset. A deprivation phase was followed by a rise in ethanol intake (ADE) that was not affected by sex or age. Finally, stress did not alter alcohol self-administration either during or after its occurrence.
Emergence of greater alcohol consumption in adult females does not seem to be limited to a specific developmental period (i.e., puberty). Age of voluntary drinking onset (adolescence vs. adulthood) does not affect eventual alcohol intake in adult WSC-1 mice and does not modify the transient increase in ethanol consumption after alcohol deprivation.
Article: The effects of pre-pubertal gonadectomy and binge-like ethanol exposure during adolescence on ethanol drinking in adult male and female rats.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The pubertal surge in gonadal hormones that occurs during adolescence may impact the long-term effects of early alcohol exposure and sex differences in drinking behavior in adulthood. We investigated this hypothesis by performing sham or gonadectomy surgeries in Long-Evans rats around post-natal day (P) 20. From P35-45, males and females were given saline or 3.0 g/kg ethanol using a binge-like model of exposure (8 injections total). As adults (P100), they were trained to self-administer ethanol via a sucrose-fading procedure and then given access to different unsweetened concentrations (5-20%, w/v) for 5 days/concentration. We found that during adolescence, ethanol-induced intoxication was similar in males and females that underwent sham surgery. In gonadectomized males and females, however, the level of intoxication was greater following the last injection compared to the first. During adulthood, females drank more sucrose per body weight than males and binge-like exposure to ethanol reduced sucrose consumption in both sexes. These effects were not seen in gonadectomized rats. Ethanol consumption was higher in saline-exposed females compared to males, with gonadectomy reversing this sex difference by increasing consumption in males and decreasing it in females. Exposure to ethanol during adolescence augmented ethanol consumption in both sexes, but this effect was statistically significant only in gonadectomized females. Together, these results support a role for gonadal hormones during puberty in the short- and long-term effects of ethanol on behavior and in the development of sex differences in consummatory behavior during adulthood.Behavioural brain research 01/2011; 216(2):569-75. · 3.22 Impact Factor