Sweetened ethanol drinking during social isolation: enhanced intake, resistance to genetic heterogeneity and the emergence of a distinctive drinking pattern in adolescent mice

J. B. Panksepp, E. D. Rodriguez, Andrey Ryabinin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


With its ease of availability during adolescence, sweetened ethanol (‘alcopops’) is consumed within many contexts. We asked here whether genetically based differences in social motivation are associated with how the adolescent social environment impacts voluntary ethanol intake. Mice with previously described differences in sociability (BALB/cJ, C57BL/6J, FVB/NJ and MSM/MsJ strains) were weaned into isolation or same-sex pairs (postnatal day, PD, 21), and then given continuous access to two fluids on PDs 34–45: one containing water and the other containing an ascending series of saccharin-sweetened ethanol (3–6–10%). Prior to the introduction of ethanol (PDs 30–33), increased water and food intake was detected in some of the isolation-reared groups, and controls indicated that isolated mice also consumed more ‘saccharin-only’ solution. Voluntary drinking of ‘ethanol-only’ was also higher in a subset of the isolated groups on PDs 46–49. However, sweetened ethanol intake was increased in all isolated strain × sex combinations irrespective of genotype. Surprisingly, blood ethanol concentration (BEC) was not different between these isolate and socially housed groups 4 h into the dark phase. Using lickometer-based measures of intake in FVB mice, we identified that a predominance of increased drinking during isolation transpired outside of the typical circadian consumption peak, occurring ≈8.5 h into the dark phase, with an associated difference in BEC. These findings collectively indicate that isolate housing leads to increased consumption of rewarding substances in adolescent mice independent of their genotype, and that for ethanol this may be because of when individuals drink during the circadian cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-383
Number of pages15
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017



  • Addiction
  • adolescence
  • alcohol
  • alcohol-use disorder
  • circadian
  • peers
  • risk-taking
  • rodent
  • sociability
  • social neuroscience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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