Rodent models and mechanisms of voluntary binge-like ethanol consumption: Examples, opportunities, and strategies for preclinical research

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Binge ethanol consumption has widespread negative consequences for global public health. Rodent models offer exceptional power to explore the neurobiology underlying and affected by binge-like drinking as well as target potential prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies. An important characteristic of these models is their ability to consistently produce pharmacologically-relevant blood ethanol concentration. This review examines the current available rodent models of voluntary, pre-dependent binge-like ethanol consumption and their utility in various research strategies. Studies have demonstrated that a diverse array of neurotransmitters regulate binge-like drinking, resembling some findings from other drinking models. Furthermore, repeated binge-like drinking recruits neuroadaptive mechanisms in mesolimbocortical reward circuitry. New opportunities that these models offer in the current context of mechanistic research are also discussed.

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