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Absence of compulsive drinking phenotype in adult male rats exposed to ethanol in a binge-like pattern during adolescence

Todd B Nentwig, E Margaret Starr, L Judson Chandler, Elizabeth J Glover
Alcohol 2019 January 18
The abuse of alcohol during adolescence is widespread and represents a particular concern given that earlier age of drinking onset is associated with increased risk for the development of alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Despite this risk, it remains unclear whether binge-like adolescent alcohol exposure facilitates drinking despite aversive consequences, a characteristic common among individuals with AUDs. The present study examined voluntary alcohol consumption and aversion-resistant drinking in adult male Long-Evans rats that had undergone adolescent intermittent ethanol (AIE) exposure by vapor inhalation between post-natal days (PD) 28-44. Ethanol consumption during adulthood was examined using a two-bottle choice (2BC) intermittent access procedure. Rats were tested for aversion-resistant drinking using ethanol adulterated with quinine (10, 30, 100 mg/L) after two 7-week periods of 2BC drinking. After completion of the second test of aversion-resistant drinking, rats were trained to operantly self-administer ethanol. The results revealed that both air control (AIR) and AIE exposed rats exhibited similar ethanol intake and preference in the 2BC paradigm. After seven weeks of 2BC drinking, quinine adulteration significantly suppressed ethanol intake, but only at the highest concentration examined (100 mg/L). However, upon retesting after a total of 17 weeks of 2BC drinking, 30 mg/L quinine suppressed ethanol intake. Notably, AIR and AIE exposed rats were equally sensitive to quinine adulterated ethanol at both time-points. In addition, AIR and AIE exposed rats responded similarly during operant ethanol self-administration on both fixed and progressive ratio schedules of reinforcement. Finally, both AIR and AIE exposed rats exhibited similar preference for sucrose. The results of this study show that binge-like ethanol vapor exposure during adolescence does not alter voluntary ethanol consumption, motivation to operantly respond for ethanol, or promote aversion-resistant ethanol consumption in adulthood. These data, together with previous work reporting conflicting results across various rodent models of adolescent alcohol exposure, underscore the need to further explore the role that exposure to alcohol during adolescence has on the development of heavy and compulsive drinking phenotypes in adulthood.


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