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Among women with Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs), women have higher rates of anxiety-disorders and are more influenced by early life stress compared to men. Preclinical models have been used to study the relationships between early life stress, anxiety-like behavior, and alcohol intake and preference. However, fewer studies have been done with female rats than male rats. To that end, we used a model of early life stress in females that utilizes chronic social instability. In this model Long Evans rats are placed in different pairs every day, and this has previously produced anxiety-like behavior in female rats (McCormick et al., 2008). Our study extended the McCormick et al. model by including an extra experimental group and including an alcohol self-administration paradigm. Experimental groups were: (1) chronic social instability (pair-housed for 17 days with a novel cage mate introduced every 24h); (2) Social stability; pair-housed with same cage mate daily); (3) Isolated; single housed for entire study); (4) Acute social instability; pair-housed with same cage mate for 16 days but novel cage mate for 24h on last day). A well-validated model for assessment of anxiety-like behavior, the elevated plus maze, was utilized to evaluate anxiety-like behavior after the housing manipulation, and plasma corticosterone (CORT) levels were measured. Following these measures, rats were given a two bottle choice and intermittent access between alcohol and water, and alcohol consumption and preference was measured. Following these measures, no significant differences were found between experimental groups for anxiety-like behavior, CORT levels, or alcohol intake/preference. Thus, further study is needed to find a preclinical model of early life stress that promotes anxiety-like behavior and alcohol consumption.

Publication Date

4-9-2016

Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Tracy Butler

Primary Advisor's Department

Psychology

Keywords

Stander Symposium poster

The Effect of Early Life Social Stress on Anxiety-like Behaviors and Ethanol Drinking in Female Long-Evans Rats

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