Spontaneous Early Withdrawal Behaviors after Chronic 24-hour Free-Choice Access to Ethanol

Sheketha R. Hauser, Rebecca J. Smith, Jamie E. Toalston, Zachary Rodd, William J. McBride, Richard L. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


AIMS: Abstinence after chronic alcohol consumption leads to withdrawal symptoms, which are exacerbated after repeated cycles of relapse. This study examined withdrawal-like behaviors after chronic ethanol drinking, with or without repeated cycles of deprivation. METHODS: Male alcohol-preferring (P) rats had access to continuous ethanol (CE), chronic ethanol with repeated deprivation (RD), or remained ethanol naïve (EN). The RD group experienced seven cycles of 2 weeks of deprivation and 2 weeks of re-exposure to ethanol after an initial 6 weeks of ethanol access. Withdrawal was measured after an initial 24 h of ethanol re-exposure in the RD group, which coincided with the same day of ethanol access in the CE group. Withdrawal-like behavior was measured by (a) ethanol intake during the initial 24 h of re-exposure, (b) locomotor activity (LMA) in a novel field 9-13 h after removal of ethanol at the beginning of the fifth re-exposure cycle and (c) acoustic startle responding (ASR) 8-15 h after removal of ethanol at the beginning of the sixth re-exposure cycle. RESULTS: The RD rats displayed a 1-h alcohol deprivation effect (ADE) (temporary ethanol increase), relative to CE rats, during the first to fourth and seventh re-exposure cycles. RD and CE rats displayed significant increases in LMA than EN rats. Regarding ASR, RD rats displayed significantly greater ASR relative to EN rats. CONCLUSION: This study confirms that P rats meet the animal model criterion for ethanol-associated dependence, without a reliance on either behavioral (limited fluid access) or pharmacological (seizure threshold manipulation) challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-488
Number of pages9
JournalAlcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 14 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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