Both chronic and acute (binge) alcohol drinking are important health and economic concerns worldwide and prominent risk factors for the development of alcoholic liver disease (ALD). There are no FDA-approved medications to prevent or to treat any stage of ALD. Therefore, discovery of novel therapeutic strategies remains a critical need for patients with ALD. Relevant experimental animal models that simulate human drinking patterns and mimic the spectrum and severity of alcohol-induced liver pathology in humans are critical to our ability to identify new mechanisms and therapeutic targets. There are several animal models currently in use, including the most widely utilized chronic ad libitum ethanol (EtOH) feeding (Lieber–DeCarli liquid diet model), chronic intragastric EtOH administration (Tsukamoto–French model), and chronic-plus-binge EtOH challenge (Bin Gao—National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) model). This review provides an overview of recent advances in rodent models of binge EtOH administration which help to recapitulate different features and etiologies of progressive ALD. These models include EtOH binge alone, and EtOH binge coupled with chronic EtOH intake, a high fat diet, or endotoxin challenge. We analyze the strengths, limitations, and translational relevance of these models, as well as summarize the liver injury outcomes and mechanistic insights. We further discuss the application(s) of binge EtOH models in examining alcohol-induced multi-organ pathology, sex- and age-related differences, as well as circadian rhythm disruption.
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