Temporal analysis of individual ethanol consumption in socially housed mice and the effects of oxytocin

Maya A. Caruso, Meridith T. Robins, Hannah D. Fulenwider, Andrey E. Ryabinin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Rationale: The majority of preclinical studies assessing treatments for alcohol use disorder use singly housed animals. Because social factors affect ethanol intake, studies investigating such treatments in group-housed animals are needed. Objectives: We investigated the effects of repeated oxytocin treatment on ethanol intake in socially housed male and female C57BL/6J mice. Methods: We used the novel “Herdsman” system implementing radiotracking technology to measure individual ethanol intake in group-housed animals. Mice were housed in same-sex groups of 4 per cage and exposed to 3 and 6% ethanol solutions. After baseline drinking was established, half of the animals in each cage received repeated intraperitoneal injections of 3 mg/kg oxytocin. Results: During baseline, females consumed more ethanol than males partly due to greater number of ethanol drinks taken by females. We also observed a gradual development of two peaks of ethanol consumption during the dark phase of the circadian cycle. The effects of oxytocin treatment were short-acting and varied across treatment days. Oxytocin significantly decreased ethanol intake on three out the four treatment days. On the fourth treatment day, oxytocin decreased ethanol intake and water intake. Conclusion: The greater intake of ethanol in female mice is associated with the number of drinks taken. Oxytocin treatments not only cause an acute decrease in ethanol consumption, but can also change in efficacy over time. While the oxytocin system remains a promising therapeutic target for alcoholism, studies investigating longer periods of repeated oxytocin treatment and those using additional oxytocin receptor agonists are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-911
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Alcohol
  • Drink size
  • Ethanol preference
  • HM2
  • Oxytocin
  • RFID
  • Radiofrequency identification
  • Sex differences
  • Socially housed
  • Two-bottle choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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