Male And Female C57BL/6J Adult Mice Alcohol Drinking Patterns And The Regulatory Role Of Aromatase Inhibition

Student Classification

Jason Dennis, 4th-Year, Biology, Philosophy

Faculty Mentor

Professor Antoinette Maldonado-Devincci


Department of Psychology

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2023


In the United States, 18.3% of men and 9.7% of women have shown a lifetime preference for alcohol use disorder. Historically men consume alcohol and binge drink more compared to women, but recent drinking trends show that gap is closing. We are interested in exploring potential mechanistic targets that may mediate sex-specific patterns of alcohol drinking. In our previous study, we found no significant sex differences in the consumption of low ethanol concentrations (3%, 5%, and 8%) in adult C57BL/6J mice. However, we observed higher ethanol consumption in adult female C57BL/6J mice compared to their male counterparts at higher ethanol concentrations (12% and 15%). To further understand the role of sex in alcohol binge drinking of higher concentrations of ethanol, we utilized the aromatase inhibitor, letrozole (0.1 mg/kg/ip) in both male and female adult C57BL/6J mice. Aromatase is the enzyme responsible for the reduction of androgens (such as testosterone) to estrogen. By inhibiting an enzyme responsible for estrogen synthesis (aromatase), we aim to explore how this hormone sex-specifically affects drinking patterns. We observed that after three weeks, female letrozole-exposed mice showed increased ethanol (12%) drinking compared to controls. This effect was maintained after a brief washout period. When the ethanol concentration was increased to 15% this effect dissipated in females. Males did not show any changes in ethanol drinking. Our findings suggest aromatase may serve as a mechanistic target mediated sex differences in ethanol drinking in adult mice. In future work we will use a higher dose of letrozole to determine the robustness of this effect and we will determine levels of hormones in blood.

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