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Behav Genet. 2012 Mar;42(2):313-22. doi: 10.1007/s10519-011-9505-y. Epub 2011 Oct 12.

Affect-related behaviors in mice selectively bred for high and low voluntary alcohol consumption.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 685 West Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


There is considerable evidence for the existence of comorbidity between alcohol-use disorders and depression in humans. One strategy to elucidate hereditary factors affecting the comorbidity of these disorders is to use genetic animal models, such as mouse lines selectively bred for voluntary ethanol consumption. We hypothesized that mice from lines that were bred for high-alcohol preference would manifest increased depression-like phenotypes compared to low-alcohol preferring mice. Mice that were bi-directionally selected and bred on the basis of their High- (HAP) or Low-Alcohol Preference (LAP) were tested in the open-field (OFT), dark-light box (DLB), forced swim (FST), and learned helplessness tests (LH). The study was conducted in two independently derived replicates. In the OFT, both HAP2 and HAP3 mice showed higher levels of general locomotion compared to LAP mice. However, only HAP2 mice spent more time in the center compared to LAP2 mice. In the DLB, there was a slightly higher anxiety-like phenotype in HAP mice. In both FST and LH, we observed higher depression-like behaviors in HAP mice compared to LAP mice, but this was limited to the Replicate 2 mice. Overall, we identified affect-related behavioral changes in mouse lines bred for high-alcohol preference. Notably, the Replicate 3 lines that showed fewer depression-like behaviors also manifest smaller differences in alcohol intake. These data suggest that there may be overlap between genes that predispose to excessive alcohol intake and those underlying affect-related behaviors in the mouse.

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