Effects of Stress on Alcohol Consumption in Rats Selectively Bred for High or Low Alcohol Drinking

Julia A. Chester, Annette M. Blose, Mark Zweifel, Janice C. Froehlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Scopus citations


Background: Stress has long been thought to influence the initiation and maintenance of alcohol drinking in humans. However, results of studies in animals suggest that the relationship between stress and alcohol drinking is not well understood. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of unpredictable and uncontrollable restraint stress on alcohol consumption in two sets of rat lines selectively bred for alcohol preference (P) and high alcohol drinking (HAD1) and for alcohol nonpreference (NP) and low alcohol drinking (LAD1). Methods: Male P (n = 26) and NP (n = 26) and HAD1 (n = 17) and LAD1 (n = 20) rats were counterbalanced on the basis of alcohol intake and assigned, in matched pairs, to either a stress (Stress) or a no-stress (Control) group. All rats were given a free choice between a 10% v/v alcohol solution and water, with food freely available. Unpredictable, uncontrollable stress, which consisted of immobilization in a nylon restraint sleeve for 30 to 120 min/day, was applied for 10 consecutive days. Results: Stress moderately reduced alcohol intake in both P and HAD1 rats versus controls and had no effect on alcohol intake in either the NP or the LAD1 rats during the 10 days of stress application. Alcohol intake was increased for the first 5 days after stress termination in P rats but not in HAD1 rats. Alcohol intake remained stable for several weeks in both the NP and LAD1 lines after stress termination and then increased during the last 15 days of the 35-day poststress period in NP rats, but not in LAD1 rats. Conclusions: A reduction in alcohol intake during stress in rats with a genetic predisposition toward high alcohol intake seems to be a moderate but consistent finding, whereas an increase in alcohol intake after stress termination is less consistent and may be influenced by genetic background.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-393
Number of pages9
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2004


  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Genetics
  • Selected Lines
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology

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