The Complexity of Alcohol Drinking: Studies in Rodent Genetic Models
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- Crabbe, J.C., Phillips, T.J. & Belknap, J.K. Behav Genet (2010) 40: 737. doi:10.1007/s10519-010-9371-z
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Risk for alcohol dependence in humans has substantial genetic contributions. Successful rodent models generally attempt to address only selected features of the human diagnosis. Most such models target the phenotype of oral administration of alcohol solutions, usually consumption of or preference for an alcohol solution versus water. Data from rats and mice for more than 50 years have shown genetic influences on preference drinking and related phenotypes. This paper summarizes some key findings from that extensive literature. Much has been learned, including the genomic location and possible identity of several genes influencing preference drinking. We report new information from congenic lines confirming QTLs for drinking on mouse chromosomes 2 and 9. There are many strengths of the various phenotypic assays used to study drinking, but there are also some weaknesses. One major weakness, the lack of drinking excessively enough to become intoxicated, has recently been addressed with a new genetic animal model, mouse lines selectively bred for their high and intoxicating blood alcohol levels after a limited period of drinking in the circadian dark. We report here results from a second replicate of that selection and compare them with the first replicate.