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Behavioral profiling of multiple pairs of rats selectively bred for high and low alcohol intake using the MCSF test

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Genetic aspects of alcoholism have been modeled using rats selectively bred for extremes of alcohol preference and voluntary alcohol intake. These lines show similar alcohol drinking phenotypes but have different genetic and environmental backgrounds and may therefore display diverse behavioral traits as seen in human alcoholics. The multivariate concentric square field™ (MCSF) test is designed to provoke exploration and behaviors associated with risk assessment, risk taking and shelter seeking in a novel environment. The aim was to use the MCSF to characterize behavioral profiles in rat lines from selective breeding programs in the United States (P/NP, HAD1/LAD1, HAD2/LAD2), Italy (sP/sNP) and Finland (AA/ANA). The open field and elevated plus maze tests were used as reference tests. There were substantial differences within some of the pairs of selectively bred rat lines as well as between all alcohol‐preferring rats. The most pronounced differences within the pairs of lines were between AA and ANA rats and between sP and sNP rats followed by intermediate differences between P and NP rats and minor differences comparing HAD and LAD rats. Among all preferring lines, P, HAD1 and HAD2 rats shared similar behavioral profiles, while AA and sP rats were quite different from each other and the others. No single trait appeared to form a common ‘pathway’ associated with a high alcohol drinking phenotype among all of the alcohol‐preferring lines of rats. The marked behavioral differences found in the different alcohol‐preferring lines may mimic the heterogeneity observed among human alcoholic subtypes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA 2: CNR Institute of Neuroscience, Cagliari, Italy 3: Institute of Biomedicine/Pharmacology, University of Helsinki, Finland 4: Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA 5: Department of Medicine, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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