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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Effects of pair housing on voluntary alcohol intake in male and female Wistar rats

Scott, Hayden; Tjernström, Nikita; Roman, Erika


A number of different voluntary alcohol intake paradigms are available for home cage drinking studies. Traditionally, these paradigms involve single housing in order for individual intake to be measured. This study aimed at investigating the effects of pair housing on voluntary alcohol intake. Male and female Wistar rats were housed in pairs or individually for studies of voluntary alcohol intake using the modified intermittent access paradigm with alcohol access during three consecutive days per week followed by four days of water only. Individual intake of 20% alcohol solution and water was measured during 12 sessions, i.e., 4 weeks. Pair-housed animals could interact freely with their cage mate for four consecutive days each week and were then separated by an inserted mesh divider for three consecutive days each week during alcohol intake sessions. Alcohol intake and preference were compared between pair-housed and individually housed rats. The results revealed higher alcohol intake in females than in males. Pair-housed males had a higher alcohol intake and preference during the first 3 weeks, but not during the fourth week, compared to individually housed males No effect of housing condition was observed in female rats. The alcohol intake was higher on the first day of access relative to the two consecutive days in pair-housed males and higher on the first two days relative to the third day in female rats. Social rank or female estrus cycle had no effect on alcohol intake or preference. Taken together, the use of a divider during alcohol intake sessions had no impact on alcohol intake in female rats and may not exert long-term influences in male rats. Future studies are needed in order to elucidate whether the use of a divider can constitute an experimental refinement as an alternative to individual housing in studies of voluntary alcohol intake using the limited access and/or intermittent access paradigms. (C) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.


estrous cycle; mesh divider; 3R; refinement; social hierarchy; social isolation

Published in

2020, Volume: 86, pages: 121-128

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)