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Behav Genet. 2007 Jan;37(1):146-59. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

Sweet and bitter taste of ethanol in C57BL/6J and DBA2/J mouse strains.

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Center for Developmental and Health Genetics, The Pennsylvania State University, 201, Research Building D, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Studies of inbred strains of rats and mice have suggested a positive association between strain variations in sweet taste and ethanol intake. However, strain associations by themselves are insufficient to support a functional link between taste and ethanol intake. We used conditioned taste aversion (CTA) to explore the sweet and bitter taste of ethanol and ability to detect sucrose, quinine and ethanol in C57BL/6J (B6) and DBA/2J (D2) mouse strains that are frequently used in alcohol research. The present study showed that C57BL/6J mice generalized taste aversions from sucrose and quinine solutions to 10% ethanol and, reciprocally, aversions to 10% ethanol generalized to each of these solutions presented separately. Only conditioned aversions to quinine generalized to ethanol in the DBA/2J strain but an aversion conditioned to ethanol did not generalize reciprocally to quinine. Thus, considering these two gustatory qualities, 10% ethanol tastes both sweet and bitter to B6 mice but only bitter to D2. Both strains were able to generalize taste aversions across different concentrations of the same compound. B6 were able to detect lower concentrations of quinine than D2 but both strains were able to detect sucrose and (in contrast to previous findings) ethanol at similar concentrations. The strain-dependent gustatory profiles for ethanol may make an important contribution to the understanding of the undoubtedly complex mechanisms influencing high ethanol preference of B6 and pronounced ethanol avoidance of D2 mice.

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