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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Behavioral profiles of adolescent alcohol-preferring/non-preferring (P/NP) and high/low alcohol-drinking (HAD/LAD) rats are dependent on line but not sex

Lundberg, Stina; Roman, Erika; Bell, Richard L.


Initial contact with alcohol generally occurs during adolescence, and high consumption during this period is associated with increased risk for later alcohol (AUDs) and/or substance use disorders (SUDs). Rodents selectively bred for high or low alcohol consumption are used to identify behavioral characteristics associated with a propensity for high or low voluntary alcohol intake. The multivariate concentric square field (TM) (MCSF) is a behavioral test developed to study rodents in a semi-naturalistic setting. Testing in the MCSF creates a comprehensive behavioral profile in a single trial. The current aim was to examine the behavioral profiles of adolescent, bidirectionally selectively bred male and female high alcohol-consuming (P and HAD1/2) and low alcohol-consuming (NP and LAD1/2) rat lines, and outbred Wistar rats. Alcohol-naive rats were tested once in the MCSF at an age between postnatal days 30 and 35. No common behavioral profile was found for either high or low alcohol-consuming rat lines, and the effect of sex was small. The P/NP and HAD2/LAD2 lines showed within pair-dependent differences, while the HAD1/LAD1 lines were highly similar. The P rats displayed high activity and risk-associated behaviors, whereas HAD2 rats displayed low activity, high shelter-seeking behavior, and open area avoidance. The results from P rats parallel clinical findings that denser family history and risk-taking behavior are strong predictors of future AUDs, often with early onset. Contrarily, the HAD2 behavioral profile was similar to individuals experiencing negative emotionality, which also is associated with a vulnerability to develop, often with a later onset, AUDs and/or SUDs.


adolescence; alcohol non-preferring rats; alcohol-preferring rats; high alcohol-drinking rats; low alcohol-drinking rats; multivariate concentric square field (MCSF)

Published in

Frontiers in Neuroscience
2022, Volume: 15, article number: 811401

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