Rewarding and aversive effects of ethanol in High Drinking in the Dark selectively bred mice

Amanda M. Barkley-Levenson, Christopher L. Cunningham, Phoebe J. Smitasin, John C. Crabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Both rewarding and aversive effects contribute to alcohol consumption. Animals genetically predisposed to be high drinkers show reduced sensitivity to the aversive effects of alcohol, and in some instances, increased sensitivity to alcohol's rewarding effects. The present studies tested the high drinking in the dark (HDID) selected lines, a genetic model of drinking to intoxication, to determine whether intake in these mice was genetically related to sensitivity to alcohol aversion or reward. Male HDID mice from the first and second replicate lines (HDID-1 and HDID-2, respectively) and mice from the heterogeneous progenitor control population (HS/Npt, or HS) were conditioned for a taste aversion to a salt solution using two doses of alcohol, and lithium chloride (LiCl) and saline controls. In separate experiments, male and female HDID-1, HDID-2 and HS mice were conditioned for place preference using alcohol. HDID mice were found to have an attenuated sensitivity to alcohol at a moderate (2g/kg) dose compared to HS mice, but did not differ on conditioned taste aversion to a high (4g/kg) dose or LiCl or saline injections. HDID and HS mice showed comparable development of alcohol-induced conditioned place preference. These results indicate that high blood alcohol levels after drinking in the HDID mice is genetically related to attenuated aversion to alcohol, while sensitivity to alcohol reward is not altered in these mice. Thus, HDID mice may find a moderate dose of alcohol to be less aversive than control mice and consequently may drink more because of this reduced aversive sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-90
Number of pages11
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • alcohol
  • behavioral genetics
  • binge drinking
  • conditioned place preference
  • conditioned taste aversion
  • selected lines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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