Limited access ethanol drinking in the dark in adolescent and adult mice

Pamela Metten, Lauren Lyon Brown, John C. Crabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Adult risk of alcohol dependence increases the younger one first engages in intoxicating consumption. Adolescent mice drink more ethanol than do adults on a gram per kilogram basis, an increase sometimes persisting into adulthood, and this is genotype-dependent. Most studies have used 24 h two-bottle preference, with a choice between ethanol and water. We studied the developmental onset of binge drinking using limited access ethanol drinking in the dark (DID) in male and female mice. To establish age dependence in DID magnitude, we tested HS/Npt mice of 6 ages for DID for 2 weeks, and when they were 9 weeks old, we retested them for 2 weeks vs naïve adult controls. Age groups drank equivalently in their first week; thus, adolescent HS/Npt mice do not show greater DID than adults. Six week old mice drank more ethanol during their second week relative to their other weeks. Ethanol DID during early adolescence (4 weeks) led to increased drinking in adulthood, as did initial DID exposure at 8 weeks. High drinking in the dark-1 (HDID-1) mice (4, 6, 9 weeks old), selectively bred for high blood ethanol after DID, were tested for 9 weeks. Mice beginning at 4 weeks generally drank more ethanol than those of other age groups. Comparison at the same ages showed that 9 week olds initiated at 4 weeks drank more ethanol than did naïve 9 week olds, but all three groups of age-matched mice drank equivalent amounts once they were 10 weeks and older. The DID test is thus sensitive to developmental age. DID intakes by young adolescent HDID-1 mice were greater than intakes by older mice, like those shown by studies with two-bottle preference. Early DID led to increased drinking as adults only in HS/Npt mice. HDID-1 mice provide a useful animal model for exploring whether DID and continuous access preference drinking have parallel consequences when initiated in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-285
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Development
  • Drinking in the dark
  • Ethanol
  • Genetics
  • Mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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