The continuous two-bottle choice test is the most common measure of alcohol consumption but there is remarkably little information about the development of tolerance or dependence with this procedure. We showed that C57BL/6J×FVB/NJ and FVB/NJ×C57BL/6JF1 hybrid mice demonstrate greater preference for and consumption of alcohol than either parental strain. In order to test the ability of this genetic model of high alcohol consumption to produce neuroadaptation, we examined development of alcohol tolerance and dependence after chronic self-administration using a continuous access two-bottle choice paradigm. Ethanol-experienced mice stably consumed about 16–18 g/kg/day of ethanol. Ethanol-induced withdrawal severity was assessed (after 59 days of drinking) by scoring handling-induced convulsions; withdrawal severity was minimal and did not differ between ethanol-experienced and -naïve mice. After 71 days of drinking, the rate of ethanol clearance was similar for ethanol-experienced and -naïve mice. After 77 days of drinking, ethanol-induced loss of righting reflex (LORR) was tested daily for 5 days. Ethanol-experienced mice had a shorter duration of LORR. For both ethanol-experienced and -naïve mice, blood ethanol concentrations taken at gain of righting reflex were greater on day 5 than on day 1, indicative of tolerance. After 98 days of drinking, ethanol-induced hypothermia was assessed daily for 3 days. Both ethanol-experienced and -naïve mice developed rapid and chronic tolerance to ethanol-induced hypothermia, with significant group differences on the first day of testing. In summary, chronic, high levels of alcohol consumption in F1 hybrid mice produced rapid and chronic tolerance to both the sedative/hypnotic and hypothermic effects of ethanol; additionally, a small degree of metabolic tolerance developed. The development of tolerance supports the validity of using this model of high alcohol consumption in genetic studies of alcoholism.Highlights
▸ We use valuable genetic mouse model of high ethanol intake. ▸ Chronic, high ethanol intake results in the development of tolerance. ▸ Tolerance is a distinction from other genetic mouse models.