Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a major societal concern and so understanding how it develops is an important topic of research. Epigenetic mechanisms induced by mother-infant interactions can turn genes on or off in response to being reared in a different environment. This research attempted to disentangle the roles of nature and nurture on the development of AUD. Two strains of inbred mice were cross-fostered to see if the postnatal rearing environment can reduce alcohol consumption in the strain of mice genetically predisposed to drink alcohol. Researchers recorded mouse maternal care, pup anxiety, and pup alcohol consumption. It was hypothesized that mice that are predisposed to drink alcohol (B6 strain) will drink less when reared by mothers not predisposed to drink (FVB strain), potentially via maternal care differences. It was also hypothesized that mice that are not predisposed to drink alcohol (FVB strain) will drink more when reared by mothers predisposed to drink (B6 strain). These data tested the ability of the early maternal environment to shift the behavior of offspring genetically predisposed to drink alcohol. Results showed that FVB mice and cross-fostered mice were less anxious overall, and that female mice, B6 mice, and non-fostered mice tended to drink the most of any group. These findings imply that early life trauma alongside epigenetics can influence anxiety and alcoholic tendencies later in life.
"Disentangling Nature versus Nurture in a Mouse Model of Alcohol Use,"
Proceedings of GREAT Day: Vol. 2021, Article 18.
Available at: https://knightscholar.geneseo.edu/proceedings-of-great-day/vol2021/iss1/18