Voluntary consumption of ethanol in 15 inbred mouse strains

J. K. Belknap, J. C. Crabbe, E. R. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

471 Scopus citations


To determine genetic differences in ethanol consumption, 15 commonly used inbred strains of mice were given ad libitum two-bottle choice between ethanol, 0.2% saccharin, or ethanol plus saccharin in one bottle versus tap water in the other bottle. Three different concentrations of ethanol were used: 3%, 6% and 10% (v/v). Of the 15 strains, the C57BL/6J, C57BR/cdJ and C57L/J strains showed the most consistent higher intake of ethanol either with or without 0.2% saccharin. In marked contrast, the DBA/1J and DBA/2J strains consistently showed the lowest intake. Consumption of 3% ethanol without saccharin was highly genetically correlated with saccharin consumption (r=0.77), suggesting that low concentrations of ethanol may have a sweet taste that affects voluntary consumption. Most strains showed very different patterns of response to ethanol with or without saccharin. Three patterns of strain responses were identified. Some strains avoided higher concentrations of ethanol whether in water or saccharin; some appeared to be sensitive to the ability of saccharin to mask the odor of ethanol; and some may have reduced consumption only when ethanol concentrations were high enough to produce aversive postingestional effects. Whereas earlier studies generally attempted to explain strain differences in consumption by invoking a single mechanism, our results demonstrate that more than one mechanism is necessary to explain the preferential ethanol intake of all strains studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-510
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol preference
  • Ethanol
  • Inbred strains
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Self-administration
  • Strain differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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