Binge-drinking Mice

A new mouse model of alcoholism better recapitulates behaviors seen in addicted humans.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Dec 12, 2011

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, RAMA

There’s a new mouse in the game for alcoholism and addiction researchers. Developed by Nicholas Grahame, an associate professor of psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and colleagues, the animals drink more alcohol than other rodent models, choose alcohol over other options, and binge drink—all of which makes for much drunker mice.

Previous mouse models of alcoholism would choose to drink water, even when alcohol was available. The only way to get them really drunk is to take the water away, or to directly administer the alcohol. The new mouse line, on the other hand, always chooses alcohol, just like human alcoholics, reaching blood-alcohol levels more than three times the equivalent of the human legal driving limit—approximately the level of severe human alcoholics.

“This line of high-alcohol-seeking mice should be able to give us a better understanding of the basic brain mechanism involved in alcohol consumption as...

This new strain, which was created by selective breeding for 40 generations, was announced in a paper published online last month (November 29) in Addiction Biology.

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