Rejection of adolescent female rats by their peers has long-term effects on alcohol-seeking behavior, according to a study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, and could provide a tool for studying alcohol relapse in humans. There is growing evidence from experimental studies that women who had adverse social experiences in childhood are more susceptible to alcohol relapse following abstinence. This is not observed in men, despite men having higher rates of alcohol dependence overall. Laboratory-bred rodents are important for studying the molecular and neurobiological underpinnings of addiction and alcohol dependence, but few animal studies have assessed the sex-dependent effects of adverse social experiences on later alcohol-seeking behavior. Recently, researchers in Germany have developed a rat model for adolescent peer rejection which has allowed them to study the long-term consequences of these experiences in adult male and female rats.
Alcohol researchers have long known that excessive drinking can cause detrimental changes in cardiovascular functioning. Recent advances in technologies can facilitate data collection that identifies altered cardiovascular functioning even before a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. These results and others will be shared at the 44th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA), which will be held virtually this year from the 19th – 23rd of June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.