Date of Thesis

Spring 2021


The present studies were aimed to better understand developmental contributions to the risk for disordered drinking, and facilitate the long-term goal of developing effective interventions for individuals at high risk for alcohol use disorders. Experiment 1 assessed the effect of adolescent pre-exposure to ethanol on adult place preference, as well as, sex- and beta-endorphin(bE)-related contributions. Adolescent C57BL/6J and bE deficient mice were injected with 1.5g/kg of ethanol or saline and put back into their home cages. At the time of adulthood, we employed a single-exposure conditioned place preference paradigm (SE-CPP) to investigate the impact of preexposure on the initial subjective rewarding effects of 1.5 g/kg ethanol in mice. Results indicated that a pre-exposure injection results in decreased sensitivity to the rewarding effects of ethanol in bE deficient mice, as well as, increased sensitivity to alcoholinduced sedation in these mice. Experiment 2a assessed age-related differences in the initial subjective rewarding effects of 1.5 g/kg ethanol, and the role of sex and bE. Results indicated CPP was dependent on age and bE, in that bE deficient mice and adults were more sensitive to the rewarding effects of ethanol. Additionally, adolescent mice showed insensitivity to alcohol-induced sedation. Experiment 2b examined the neurochemical differences in wild-type adolescent and adult mice from Experiment 2a. Although there were no signs of sex differences in the previous experiments, results indicated neuronal activation in brain regions associated with addiction was dependent on age and sex. Taken together these results suggest that low endorphin and age differentially impact the vulnerability to AUDs.


Ethanol, beta-endorphin, developmental influences, mice, sex differences, c-fos

Access Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Science



First Advisor

Judith Grisel