Given my recent trend of late Neury Thursday posts perhaps Thursday should no longer be the designated day for ABrag’s featured Journal of Neuroscience article of the week….but it can’t be Friday because that’s Fungi Friday and Weird Science Friday, so “Thursday” it is for now…..

In this week’s Journal of Neuroscience Eli and UCLA researchers have used a really cool mouse model to dissociate between sex chromosomal and gonadal influences on alcohol-seeking (” I want”) and full-blown addiction (“I need”).

Sex disparities in alcohol consumption and risk of addiction exist in both animal and human models; in rodents, females drink more as shown in this graph from my own research, which secondarily explains why I solely use males; 1) females have odd, unstable circadian rhythms in addition to 2) unstable, daily drinking caused, of course, by estrus.

In humans, males are at a greater risk of alcohol addiction (possibly due to testosterone influences which hope to be elucidated here…..and are more likely to boss someone around at the bar like this T-juiced guy…..).

In this study, the researchers used a ffour core genome model, which ultimately produced a chromosomal male with nads (XYM),  a chromosomal female with nads (XXM), a chromosomal female with a poon (XXF), and achromosomal male with a poon (XYF).

Using lever pressing as a model of goal-directed alcohol seeking ResearchBlogging.org(Yagger bombs!) and habit-forming behavior with alcohol-seeking being classified a mouse learning to press a lever a set amount within a specific time interval for alcohol vs habit-forming behavior where the mouse continuously and impatiently pressed a lever, expecting alcohol and forgetting (or unlearning) the protocol (much like we repeatedly bang the Coke button of a pop machine 100x before realizing that the machine is out of Coke) . As shown here, chromosomal males independent of whether they had a poon or a pen more often engaged in habit-forming behavior (incessant lever pressing vs. specific, timed presses). In contrast, chromosomal females consumed more alcohol, confirming previous data that females drink more.

We can draw two critical conclusions from this fabulous research design: 1) sex chromosomes exert a larger influence on habit-forming behavior that can eventually lead to full-blown addiction in addiction to gating drinking amounts; 2) contrary to previous hypothesis, basic reproductive endocrinology (secretion of T and E) have less of an influence on alcohol-related behaviors and addiction. I certainly believe such elucidation will encourage earlier sought treatment for alcoholism, particularly in males that have an extensive family history of alcoholism.

Barker JM, Torregrossa MM, Arnold AP, & Taylor JR (2010). Dissociation of genetic and hormonal influences on sex differences in alcoholism-related behaviors. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 30 (27), 9140-4 PMID: 20610747