Selected mouse lines, alcohol and behavior

T. J. Phillips, D. J. Feller, J. C. Crabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The technique of selective breeding has been employed to develop a number of mouse lines differing in genetic sensitivity to specific effects of ethanol. Genetic animal models for sensitivity to the hypnotic, thermoregulatory, excitatory, and dependence-producing effects of alcohol have been developed. These genetic animal models have been utilized in numerous studies to assess the bases for those genetic differences, and to determine the specific neurochemical and neurophysiological bases for ethanol's actions. Work with these lines has challenged some long-held beliefs about ethanol's mechanisms of action. For example, lines genetically sensitive to one effect of ethanol are not necessarily sensitive to others, which demonstrates that no single set of genes modulates all ethanol effects. LS mice, selected for sensitivity to ethanol anesthesia, are not similarly sensitive to all anesthetic drugs, which demonstrates that all such drugs cannot have a common mechanism of action. On the other hand, WSP mice, genetically susceptible to the development of severe ethanol withdrawal, show a similar predisposition to diazepam and phenobarbital withdrawal, which suggests that there may be a common set of genes underlying drug dependentcies. Studies with these models have also revealed important new directions for future mechanism-oriented research. Several studies implicate brain gamma-aminobutyric acid and dopamine systems as potentially important mediators of susceptibility to alcohol intoxication. The stability of the genetic animal models across laboratories and generations will continue to increase their power as analytic tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-827
Number of pages23
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1989


  • Mouse lines
  • ethanol effects
  • long-sleep mouse
  • pharmacogenetics
  • selective breeding
  • short-sleep mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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