- Holleran KM, Winder DG. Preclinical voluntary drinking models for alcohol abstinence-induced affective disturbances in mice. Genes, brain, and behavior. 2017 Jan;16(1). 8-14. PMID: 27621103 [PubMed].
Negative reinforcement is widely thought to play an important role in chronic alcohol-use disorders (AUDs), and high comorbidity between AUDs and affective disorders highlights the importance of investigating this relationship. Prominent models posit that repeated cycles of alcohol (ethanol, EtOH) exposure and withdrawal produce circuit adaptations in the central nervous system that drive a transition from positive- to negative reinforcement-based alcohol seeking. Evidence supporting this theory has accumulated in large part using forced EtOH administration models, such as chronic intragastric gavage and chronic vapor inhalation. However, recent studies utilizing simple voluntary EtOH delivery systems show that forced abstinence from EtOH intake administered by the animal itself can produce evolving and significant affective disturbances, particularly in female C57BL/6J mice. Here, we highlight these recent studies to support the idea that voluntary EtOH administration in mouse models, as well as a protracted abstinence period and less commonly used behavioral tasks, could unveil affective disturbances during abstinence that have remained elusive using high dosage forced EtOH administration paradigms.