Binge alcohol drinking continues to be a public health concern among today's youth and young adults. Moreover, an early onset of alcohol use, which usually takes the form of binge drinking, is associated with a greater risk for developing alcohol use disorders. Given this, it is important to examine this behavior in rat models of alcohol abuse and dependence. Toward that end, the objective of this article is to review findings on binge-like drinking by selectively bred alcohol-preferring (P) and high-alcohol-drinking (HAD) lines of rats. As reviewed elsewhere in this special issue, the P line meets all, and the HAD line meets most, of the proposed criteria for an animal model of alcoholism. One model of binge drinking is scheduled ethanol access during the dark cycle, which has been used by our laboratory for over 20 years. Our laboratory has also adopted a protocol involving the concurrent presentation of multiple ethanol concentrations. When this protocol is combined with limited access, ethanol intake is maximized yielding blood ethanol levels (BELs) in excess, sometimes greatly in excess, of 80 mg%. By extending these procedures to include multiple scheduled ethanol access sessions during the dark cycle for 5 consecutive days/week, P and HAD rats consume in 3 or 4 h as much as, if not more than, the amount usually consumed in a 24 h period. Under certain conditions, using the multiple scheduled access procedure, BELs exceeding 200 mg% can be achieved on a daily basis. An overview of findings from studies with other selectively bred, inbred, and outbred rats places these findings in the context of the existing literature. Overall, the findings support the use of P and HAD rats as animal models to study binge-like alcohol drinking and reveal that scheduled access procedures will significantly increase ethanol intake by other rat lines and strains as well.
Keywords: Animal model of alcoholism; Blood alcohol concentration; Discrete bout; Drinking-in-the-dark; Excessive intake; Extreme drinking; Limited access; Loss-of-control drinking; Nocturnal drinking.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.