Assessing negative affect in mice during abstinence from alcohol drinking: Limitations and future challenges

Solal Bloch, Katherine M. Holleran, Thomas L. Kash, Elena M. Vazey, Jennifer A. Rinker, Christina L. Lebonville, Krysten O'Hara, Marcelo F. Lopez, Sara R. Jones, Kathleen A. Grant, Howard C. Becker, Patrick J. Mulholland

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is frequently comorbid with mood disorders, and these co-occurring neuropsychiatric disorders contribute to the development and maintenance of alcohol dependence and relapse. In preclinical models, mice chronically exposed to alcohol display anxiety-like and depressive-like behaviors during acute withdrawal and protracted abstinence. However, in total, results from studies using voluntary alcohol-drinking paradigms show variable behavioral outcomes in assays measuring negative affective behaviors. Thus, the main objective of this review is to summarize the literature on the variability of negative affective behaviors in mice after chronic alcohol exposure. We compare the behavioral phenotypes that emerge during abstinence across different exposure models, including models of alcohol and stress interactions. The complicated outcomes from these studies highlight the difficulties of assessing negative affective behaviors in mouse models designed for the study of AUD. We discuss new behavioral assays, comprehensive platforms, and unbiased machine-learning algorithms as promising approaches to better understand the interaction between alcohol and negative affect in mice. New data-driven approaches in the understanding of mouse behavior hold promise for improving the identification of mechanisms, cell subtypes, and neurocircuits that mediate negative affect. In turn, improving our understanding of the neurobehavioral basis of alcohol-associated negative affect will provide a platform to test hypotheses in mouse models that aim to improve the development of more effective strategies for treating individuals with AUD and co-occurring mood disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-56
Number of pages16
StatePublished - May 2022


  • alcohol drinking
  • alcohol use disorder
  • mouse
  • negative affective behaviors
  • new behavioral assays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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