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Chronic Intermittent Ethanol Exposure Increases Ethanol Consumption Following Traumatic Stress Exposure in Mice

  • Piggott, Veronica M.1, 2, 3
  • Lloyd, Scott C.1, 2, 3
  • Perrine, Shane A.1, 3
  • Conti, Alana C.1, 2, 3
  • 1 Research & Development Service, John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, Detroit, MI , (United States)
  • 2 Department of Neurosurgery, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI , (United States)
  • 3 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI , (United States)
Published Article
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jun 30, 2020
DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2020.00114
PMID: 32694985
PMCID: PMC7338656
PubMed Central


Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often use alcohol to cope with their distress. This aberrant use of alcohol often develops into alcohol use disorder (AUD) leading to high rates of PTSD-AUD co-occurrence. Individuals with comorbid PTSD-AUD have more intense alcohol cravings and increased relapse rates during withdrawal than those with AUD alone. Also, individuals with PTSD or AUD alone often show similar psychological behaviors, such as impulsivity and anhedonia. Extensive clinical studies on the behavioral effects of PTSD-AUD comorbidity, namely alcohol use, have been performed. However, these effects have not been well studied or mechanistically explored in animal models. Therefore, the present study evaluated the effects of traumatic stress comorbid with alcohol exposures on ethanol intake, impulsivity, and anhedonia in mice. Adult male C57Bl/6 mice were first exposed to either mouse single-prolonged stress (mSPS), an animal model that has been validated for characteristics akin to PTSD symptoms, or control conditions. Baseline two-bottle choice ethanol consumption and preference tests were conducted after a 7-day isolation period, as part of the mSPS exposure. Next, mice were exposed to air or chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE), a vapor-induced ethanol dependence and withdrawal model, for 4 weeks. Two-bottle choice ethanol drinking was used to measure dependence-induced ethanol consumption and preference during periods intervening CIE cycles. The novelty suppressed feeding (NSF) test was used to evaluate impulsivity and anhedonia behaviors 48 h after mSPS and/or repeated CIE exposure. Results showed that, compared to control conditions, mSPS did not affect baseline ethanol consumption and preference. However, mSPS-CIE mice increased Post-CIE ethanol consumption compared to Control-Air mice. Mice exposed to mSPS had a shorter latency to feed during the NSF, whereas CIE-exposed mice consumed less palatable food reward in their home cage after the NSF. These results demonstrate that mice exposed to both mSPS and CIE are more vulnerable to ethanol withdrawal effects, and those exposed to mSPS have increased impulsivity, while CIE exposure increases anhedonia. Future studies to examine the relationship between behavioral outcomes and the molecular mechanisms in the brain after PTSD-AUD are warranted.

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