Daily patterns of ethanol drinking in peri-adolescent and adult alcohol-preferring (P) rats


Alcohol abuse among adolescents continues to be a major health problem for our society. Our laboratory has used the peri-adolescent alcohol-preferring, P, rat as an animal model of adolescent alcohol abuse. Even though peri-adolescent P rats consume more alcohol (g/kg/day) than their adult counterparts, it is uncertain whether their drinking is sufficiently aggregated to result in measurable blood ethanol concentrations (BECs). The objectives of this study were to examine daily alcohol drinking patterns of adolescent and adult, male and female P rats, and to determine whether alcohol drinking episodes were sufficiently aggregated to result in meaningful BECs. Male and female P rats were given 30 days of 24 h free-choice access to alcohol (15%, v / v) and water, with ad lib access to food, starting at the beginning of adolescence (PND 30) or adulthood (PND 90). Water and alcohol drinking patterns were monitored 22 h/day with a "lickometer" set-up. The results indicated that (a) peri-adolescent P rats consumed more water and total fluids than adult P rats, (b) female P rats consumed more water and total fluids than male P rats, (c) there were differences in alcohol, and water, licking patterns between peri-adolescent and adult and female and male P rats, (d) individual licking patterns revealed that alcohol was consumed in bouts often exceeding the amount required to self-administer 1 g/kg of alcohol, and (e) BECs at the end of the dark cycle, on the 30th day of alcohol access, averaged 50 mg%, with alcohol intakes during the last 1 to 2 h averaging 1.2 g/kg. Overall, these findings indicate that alcohol drinking patterns differ across the age and sex of P rats. This suggests that the effectiveness of treatments for reducing excessive alcohol intake may vary depending upon the age and/or sex of the subjects being tested. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior