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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1992 Jun 28;654:302-10.

Genetic determinants of ethanol reinforcement.

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Research Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland, Oregon 97201.


In this paper, we present examples of some of the several behaviors which have been taken to indicate the reinforcing efficacy of drugs, including ethanol. Efforts to identify the genetic determinants of these behaviors have employed diverse pharmacogenetic methods. For example, we have used selective breeding to develop mice selected for severe or attenuated ethanol withdrawal and have found that Withdrawal Seizure Prone mice show a greater conditioned preference for ethanol-associated locations than the selected Withdrawal Seizure Resistant line. Similarly, HOT mice, selected for insensitivity to ethanol-induced hypothermia, had greater conditioned place preference after ethanol training than COLD mice, selected for ethanol hypothermic sensitivity. We have also developed selected mouse lines responsive or unresponsive to ethanol-stimulated locomotor activity. These FAST and SLOW lines develop sensitization rather than tolerance to ethanol-induced activity. Using inbred strains of mice, others had shown that strains differed in preference for drinking ethanol solutions. We found that these strains also differed in acceptance of ethanol. Single-gene techniques have been used to show that preference drinking is significantly altered in mutant rodent strains lacking hypothalamic vasopressin, or with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. In a specific panel of Recombinant Inbred mouse strains, we found that a single gene appeared to control a significant portion of the variance in preference drinking. These examples show that traits putatively related to drug reinforcement show substantial genetic control. Specifically, single-gene methods show promise of identification and mapping of genes related to drug reinforcement.

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