Effects of acute alcohol withdrawal on nest building in mice selectively bred for alcohol withdrawal severity

Gian D. Greenberg, Tamara J. Phillips, John C. Crabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Nest building has been used to assess thermoregulatory behavior and positive motivational states in mice. There are known genetic influences on ethanol withdrawal severity as well as individual/thermoregulatory nest building. Withdrawal Seizure-Prone (WSP-1, WSP-2) and Withdrawal Seizure-Resistant (WSR-1, WSR-2) mice were selectively bred for high vs low handling-induced convulsion (HIC) severity, respectively, during withdrawal from chronic ethanol vapor inhalation. They also differ in HIC severity during withdrawal from an acute, 4 g/kg ethanol injection. In our initial study, withdrawal from an acute dose of ethanol dose-dependently impaired nest building over the initial 24 h of withdrawal in genetically segregating Withdrawal Seizure Control (WSC) mice. In two further studies, acute ethanol withdrawal suppressed nest building for up to two days in WSP-1 females. Deficits in nest building from ethanol were limited to the initial 10 h of withdrawal in WSR-1 females and to the initial 24 h of withdrawal in WSP-1 and WSR-1 males. Effects of ethanol on nest building for up to two days were found in WSP-2 and WSR-2 mice of both sexes. Nest building deficits in female mice from the first replicate could not be explained by a general decrease in locomotor behavior. These results suggest that nest building is a novel behavioral phenotype for indexing the severity of acute ethanol withdrawal, and that genes contributing to this trait differ from those affecting acute withdrawal HIC severity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-266
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
StatePublished - Oct 15 2016


  • Acute ethanol
  • Genetics
  • Nest building
  • Selective breeding
  • Withdrawal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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