Effects of voluntary adolescent intermittent alcohol exposure and social isolation on adult alcohol intake in male rats

Cassie M. Chandler, Jakob D. Shaykin, Hui Peng, James R. Pauly, Kimberly Nixon, Michael T. Bardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Initiating alcohol use in adolescence significantly increases the likelihood of developing adult alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, it has been difficult to replicate adolescent alcohol exposure leading to increased adult alcohol intake across differing preclinical models. In the present study, differentially housed male rats (group vs. single cages) were used to determine the effects of voluntary intermittent exposure of saccharin-sweetened ethanol during adolescence on adult intake of unsweetened 20% ethanol. Adolescent male rats were assigned to group- or isolated-housing conditions and underwent an intermittent 2-bottle choice in adolescence (water only or water vs. 0.2% saccharin/20% ethanol), and again in adulthood (water vs. 20% ethanol). Intermittent 2-bottle choice sessions lasted for 24 h, and occurred three days per week, for five weeks. Rats were moved from group or isolated housing to single-housing cages for 2-bottle choice tests and returned to their original housing condition on off days. During adolescence, rats raised in isolated-housing conditions consumed significantly more sweetened ethanol than rats raised in group-housing conditions, an effect that was enhanced across repeated exposures. In adulthood, rats raised in isolated-housing conditions and exposed to sweetened ethanol during adolescence also consumed significantly higher levels of unsweetened 20% ethanol compared to group-housed rats. The effect was most pronounced over the first five re-exposure sessions. Housing conditions alone had little effect on adult ethanol intake. These preclinical results suggest that social isolation stress, combined with adolescent ethanol exposure, may play a key role in adult AUD risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-21
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.


  • 2-bottle choice
  • adolescence
  • alcohol
  • housing
  • rat
  • social isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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