Article

Alcohol Intake in Prairie Voles is Influenced by the Drinking Level of a Peer

Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA.
Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research (Impact Factor: 3.31). 05/2011; 35(10):1884-90. DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01533.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Peer interactions can have important effects on alcohol-drinking levels, in some cases increasing use, and in other cases preventing it. In a previous study, we have established the prairie vole as a model animal for the effects of social relationships on alcohol intake and have observed a correlation of alcohol intake between individual voles housed together as pairs. Here, we investigated this correlated drinking behavior, hypothesizing that 1 animal alters its alcohol intake to match the drinking of its partner.
Adult prairie voles were tested for baseline drinking levels with continuous access to 10% alcohol and water for 4 days. In Experiment 1, high alcohol drinkers (>9 g/kg/d) were paired with low alcohol drinkers (<5 g/kg/d) of the same sex on either side of a mesh divider for 4 days with continuous access to the same 2-bottle choice test. In Experiment 2, high drinkers were paired with high drinkers and low drinkers paired with low drinkers. In both experiments, animals were again separated following pairing, and drinking was retested in isolation. In Experiment 3, alcohol-naïve animals were tested for saccharin consumption (0.05%) first in isolation and then in high saccharin drinkers paired with low saccharin drinkers, and then in another isolation period.
In Experiment 1, high drinkers paired with low drinkers significantly decreased their alcohol intake and preference from baseline drinking in isolation, and drinking levels remained significantly lower during isolation following pairing. Interestingly, there was variability between pairs in whether the high drinker decreased or the low drinker increased intake. In Experiment 2, high drinkers paired with high drinkers did not significantly change their intake level or preference, nor did low drinkers paired with low drinkers, and no changes occurred during the subsequent isolation. In Experiment 3, there was no change in saccharin intake or preference when high drinkers were paired with high drinkers or low paired with low, or in the subsequent isolation.
Alcohol drinking of prairie voles can be altered under social conditions, such that 1 animal changes its alcohol intake to more closely match the intake of the other animal, helping to explain previous findings of correlated alcohol drinking. The effect does not extend to saccharin, a naturally rewarding sweet substance. This behavior can be used to model the peer pressure that can often affect alcohol intake in humans.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Andrey E Ryabinin, Jul 06, 2015
0 Followers
 · 
182 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is robust evidence for a protective role of interpersonal factors such as social support on alcohol relapse, but research on the mechanisms that social factors may be acting on to effectively protect individuals against relapse is lacking. Prairie voles are highly social, monogamous rodents that freely self-administer ethanol in high amounts, and are a useful model for understanding social influences on alcohol drinking. Here we investigated whether prairie voles can be used to model social influences on relapse using the alcohol deprivation effect, in which animals show a transient increase in ethanol drinking following deprivation. In Experiment I, subjects were housed alone during four weeks of 24-h access to 10% ethanol in a two-bottle choice test. Ethanol was then removed from the cage for 72 h. Animals remained in isolation or were then housed with a familiar same-sex social partner, and ethanol access was resumed. Animals that remained isolated showed an increase in ethanol intake relative to pre-deprivation baseline, indicative of relapse-like behavior. However, animals that were socially housed did not show an increase in ethanol intake, and this was independent of whether the social partner also had access to ethanol. Experiment II replicated the alcohol deprivation effect in a separate cohort of isolated animals. These findings demonstrate that prairie voles display an alcohol deprivation effect and suggest a ‘social buffering’ effect of relapse-like behavior in the prairie vole. This behavioral paradigm provides a novel approach for investigating the behavioral and neurobiological underpinnings of social influences on alcohol relapse.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 01/2014; 39:152–157. DOI:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.10.006 · 5.59 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Social environment influences alcohol consumption in humans; however, animal models have only begun to address biological underpinnings of these effects. We investigated whether social influences on alcohol drinking in the prairie vole are specific to the sex of the social partner. In Experiment 1, control, sham, and gonadectomized voles were placed either in mesh-divided housing with a same-sex sibling or isolation with access to ethanol. In Experiment 2, animals were given an elevated plus maze test (EPM) and then females were paired with a castrated male followed by isolation or mesh-divided housing with access to ethanol. In Experiment 3, subjects categorized as low or high drinkers based on initial ethanol intake were placed in mesh-divided housing with an opposite-sex partner of the same or opposite drinking group and ethanol access. Subjects were then moved back to isolation for a final ethanol access period. Same-sex pairs showed social facilitation of drinking similar to previous reports. Gonadectomy did not affect alcohol drinking. Opposite-sex paired animals in Experiment 2 did not differ in alcohol drinking based on social housing. EPM measures suggested a relationship between anxiety-like behaviors and drinking that depended on social environment. Experiment 3 identified moderate changes in alcohol preference based on social housing, but these effects were influenced by the animal's own drinking behavior and were independent of their partner's drinking. Social influences on alcohol self-administration in prairie voles differ based on the sex of a social partner, consistent with human drinking behavior.
    Psychopharmacology 08/2012; 224(1):121-32. DOI:10.1007/s00213-012-2836-4 · 3.99 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The recent study by Anacker, Loftis, and Ryabinin used a novel animal model, the prairie vole, to investigate social effects on drinking. Their finding that same‐sex peers modulate their drinking to match each other has intriguing implications for the fields of alcohol research as well as research on social relationships.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 06/2011; 35(8). DOI:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01582.x · 3.31 Impact Factor