Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Long term reduction of male agonistic behavior in mice following early exposure to ethanol

  • 25 Accesses

  • 25 Citations


A system was developed to study the ability of early (pre- and neonatal) ethanol input to induce long lasting neural and behavioral changes. Ethanol was administered to C57B1/10Bg and DBA/1 Bg offspring through their parents who received 10% ethanol as their only liquid supply either before and during pregnancy, or from delivery until 14 days post partum, or during both periods. Thus the offspring received ethanol transplacentally and/or through the mother's milk. The present paper is concerned with the male agonistic behavior at age 50 days of the treated offspring as compared with their pair fed controls. Early ethanol input resulted in a 23% increase in latency to attack in C57 mice and 58% in DBA, as well as a 49% (C57) and 38% (DBA) decrease in time spent fighting. The sensitive period to ethanol effect was apparently postnatal. Prenatal administration had no effect on agonistic behavior. DBA offspring were more aggressive than C57 and the scores of C57 offspring were more variable, thus indicating a lower phenotypic buffering in this strain.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Badr, F. M., Bartke, A.: Effect of ethyl alcohol on plasma testo-sterone level in mice. Steroides 23, 921–928 (1974)

  2. Carpenter, J. A., Armenti, N. P.: Some effects of ethanol on human sexual and aggressive behavior. In: The biology of alcoholism, physiology and behavior, vol. 2, B. Kissin and H. Begleiter, eds., pp. 509–543. New York Plenum 1972

  3. Chamone, A. S., Harlow, H. F.: Exaggeration of self-aggression following alcohol ingestion in resus monkeys. J. abnorm. Psychol. 75, 207–209 (1970)

  4. Chapman, E. R., Williams, P. T., Jr.: Intravenous alcohol as obstetrical analgesia. Amer. J. Obstet. Gynec. 61, 676–679 (1951)

  5. Friedhoff, A. J., Miller, J.: Effect of ethanol on biosynthesis of dopamine. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 215, 183–186 (1973)

  6. Ginsburg, B.: Genetic parameters in behavioral research. In: Behavior-genetic analysis, J. Hirsh, ed., pp. 135–153. New York: McGraw-Hill 1967

  7. Jones, L. K., Smith, D. W., Streissguth, A. P., Myrianthopoulos, N. G.: Outcome in offspring of chronic alcoholic women. Lancet 1974, 1076–1078

  8. Krsiak, M.: Behavioral changes and aggressivity evoked by drugs in mice. Res. Comm. Chem. Path. Pharmacol. 7, 237–257 (1974)

  9. Kuriyama, K., Rauscher, G. E., Sze, P. Y.: Effects of acute and chronic administration of ethanol on 5-hydroxytryptamine turnover and tryptophan hydroxylase activity of the mouse brain. Brain Res. 26, 450–454 (1971)

  10. Levitsky, D. A., Barnes, R. H.: Nutritional and environmental interactions in the behavioral development of the rat: Long term effects. Science 176, 68–71 (1972)

  11. Matzdorff, F.: Ist der Verlauf der Alkoholkurve in der Milch stillender Frauen von der Milchbildung und Milchausscheidung abhängig. Klin. Wschr. 21, 131 (1942)

  12. Mirone, L.: The effect of ethyl alcohol on growth and voluntary consumption of alcohol by successive generations of mice. Quart. J. Stud. Alcohol 19, 388–393 (1958)

  13. Randt, C. T., Blizard, D. A., Friedman, E.: Early life under nutrition and aggression in two mice strains. Dev. Psychobiol. 8, 275–279 (1973)

  14. Rappeport, J. R., Lassen, G., Hay, N. B.: A review of the literature on the dangerousness of the mentally ill. In: Clinical evaluation of the dangerousness of the mentally ill, J. R. Rappeport, Jr., ed., pp. 72–80. Springfield, Ill. C. Thomas 1967

  15. Salmanoff, M. K., Maxson, S. C., Ginsburg, B. E.: Chromosomal determinants of intermale aggression behavior in inbred mice. Behav. Genet. 6, 53–69 (1976)

  16. Siegel, S., Tukey, J. W.: A nonparametric sum of ranks procedure for relative spread in unpaired samples. J. Amer. Statist. Ass. 55, 429–445 (1960)

  17. Sigg, E. B.: Relationship of aggressive behavior to adrenal and gonadal function in male mice. In: Aggressive behavior. S. Garattini and E. B. Sigg, eds., pp. 143–149. Amsterdam: Excerpta Medica Monograph. 1969

  18. Sze, P. Y., Yanai, J., Ginsburg, B. E.: Adrenal glucocorticoid as a required factor for the development of seizure in mice drinking ethanol. Brain Res. 80, 155–159 (1974)

  19. Sze, P. Y., Yanai, J., Ginsburg, B. E.: Effects of early ethanol input on the activities of ethanol metabolizing enzymes in mice. Biochem. Pharm. 25, 215–217 (1976)

  20. Thiessen, D. D., Whiteworth, N. S., Rodgers, D. A.: Reproductive variables and alcohol consumption of the C57BL/Crgl female mouse. Quart. J. Stud. Alcohol. 27, 591–595 (1966)

  21. Uhlrich, J.: The social hierarchy in albino mice. J. comp. Psychol. 25, 373 (1938)

  22. Welsh, A. S., Welsh, B. L.: Isolation reactivity and aggression: Evidence for an involvement of brain catecholamines and serotonin. In: The physiology of aggression and defeat, B. Eleftheriou and J. P. Scott, eds., pp. 91–142. New York: Plenum Press 1971

  23. Yanai, J., Ginsburg, B. E.: The effect of ethanol consumed by parent mice on the susceptibility to audiogenic seizure and the open-field behavior of their offspring. Behav. Genet. 3, 418 (1973)

  24. Yanai, J., Ginsburg, B. E.: Suppressant effects of alcohol on audiogenic seizures. Epilepsia (Basel) 16, 491–496 (1975)

  25. Yanai, J., Sze, P. Y., Ginsburg, B. E.: Effect of aminergic drugs and glutamic acid on audiogenic seizures induced by early exposure to ethanol. Epilepsia (Basel) 16, 67–72 (1975)

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Joseph Yanai.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Yanai, J., Ginsburg, B.E. Long term reduction of male agonistic behavior in mice following early exposure to ethanol. Psychopharmacology 52, 31–34 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00426596

Download citation

Key words

  • Ethanol
  • Prenatal exposure
  • Postnatal exposure
  • Agonistic behavior
  • Strains of mice