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Author: Wolfgang H Sommer (58)


Jan
2018

Molecular changes induced by excessive alcohol consumption may underlie formation of dysphoric state during acute and protracted alcohol withdrawal which leads to craving and relapse. A main molecular addiction hypothesis is that the upregulation of the dynorphin (DYN)/κ-opioid receptor (KOR) system in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of alcohol-dependent individuals causes the imbalance in activity of D1- and D2 dopamine receptor (DR) expressing neural circuits that results in dysphoria. We here analyzed post-mortem NAc samples of human alcoholics to assess changes in prodynorphin (PDYN) and KOR (OPRK1) gene expression and co-expression (transcriptionally coordinated) patterns.

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Dec
1969

Alcohol Use Disorder is a highly prevalent mental disorder which puts a severe burden on individuals, families, and society. The treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder is challenging and novel and innovative treatment approaches are needed to expand treatment options. A promising neuroscience-based intervention method that allows targeting cortical as well as subcortical brain processes is real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging neurofeedback.

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Dec
2017

Nociceptin is a key regulator linking environmental stress and alcohol drinking. In a genome-wide methylation analysis, we recently identified an association of a methylated region in the OPRL1 gene with alcohol-use disorders.
Here, we investigate the biological basis of this observation by analysing psychosocial stressors, methylation of the OPRL1 gene, brain response during reward anticipation and alcohol drinking in 660 fourteen-year-old adolescents of the IMAGEN study.

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Nov
2017

Approved pharmacological treatments for alcohol use disorder are limited in their effectiveness, and new drugs that can easily be translated into the clinic are warranted. One of those candidates is oxytocin because of its interaction with several alcohol-induced effects. Alcohol-dependent rats as well as post-mortem brains of human alcoholics and controls were analyzed for the expression of the oxytocin system by qRT-PCR, in situ hybridization, receptor autoradiography ([I]OVTA binding), and immunohistochemistry.

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Oct
2017

Adaptations to stress can occur through epigenetic processes and may be a conduit for informing offspring of environmental challenge. We employed ChIP-sequencing for H3K4me3 to examine effects of early maternal deprivation (peer-rearing, PR) in archived rhesus macaque hippocampal samples (male,= 13). Focusing on genes with roles in stress response and behavior, we assessed the effects of rearing on H3K4me3 binding by ANOVA.

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Dec
1969

The use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure spontaneous fluctuations in blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals has become an indispensable tool to investigate how brain regions interact and form long-range networks. Statistical dependency measures between brain regions obtained from BOLD signals can inform about brain functional states in longitudinal studies of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, its non-invasive nature allows comparable measurements in clinical and animal studies, providing excellent translational capabilities.

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Feb
2017

Both chronic alcohol consumption and alcohol withdrawal lead to neural tissue damage which partly recovers during abstinence. This study investigated withdrawal-associated changes in glutamatergic compounds, markers of neuronal integrity, and gray matter volumes during acute alcohol withdrawal in the hippocampus, a key region in development and maintenance of alcohol dependence in humans and rats.
Alcohol-dependent patients (N = 39) underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and MR spectroscopy (MRS) measurements within 24 hours after the last drink and after 2 weeks of abstinence.

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Mar
2017

Evaluate brain iron accumulation in alcohol use disorder (AUD) patients compared to controls using quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM).
QSM was performed retrospectively by using phase images from resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). 20 male AUD patients and 15 matched healthy controls were examined.

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Apr
2017

It has previously been shown that the inhibition of L-type calcium channels (LTCCs) decreases alcohol consumption, although the contribution of the central LTCC subtypes Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 remains unknown.

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Feb
2017

Blockade of the μ-opioid receptor (MOR) by naltrexone reduces relapse risk in a subpopulation of alcohol-dependent patients. Previous positron-emission-tomography (PET) studies using the MOR ligand [C]carfentanil have found increased MOR availability in abstinent alcoholics, which may reflect either increased MOR expression or lower endogenous ligand concentration. To differentiate between both effects, we investigated two cohorts of alcoholic subjects using either post-mortem or clinical PET analysis.

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Sep
2017

Robust neuroimaging markers of neuropsychiatric disorders have proven difficult to obtain. In alcohol use disorders, profound brain structural deficits can be found in severe alcoholic patients, but the heterogeneity of unimodal MRI measurements has so far precluded the identification of selective biomarkers, especially for early diagnosis. In the present work we used a combination of multiple MRI modalities to provide comprehensive and insightful descriptions of brain tissue microstructure.

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Sep
2017

Over the past two decades, major advances have been made in the basic neuroscience of alcohol addiction. However, few of these have been translated into clinically useful treatments, which remain limited. In the past decade, psychiatric drug development in general has been stalled, with many preclinically validated mechanisms failing in clinical development.

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Mar
2016

A major hypothesis in addiction research is that alcohol induces neuroadaptations in the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system and that these neuroadaptations represent a key neurochemical event in compulsive drug use and relapse. Whether these neuroadaptations lead to a hypo- or hyperdopaminergic state during abstinence is a long-standing, unresolved debate among addiction researchers. The answer is of critical importance for understanding the neurobiological mechanism of addictive behavior.

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Mar
2016

The nonselective opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone is now used for the treatment of alcoholism, yet naltrexone's central mechanism of action remains poorly understood. One line of evidence suggests that opioid antagonists regulate alcohol drinking through interaction with the mesolimbic dopamine system. Hence, our goal here was to examine the role of the nucleus accumbens connectivity in alcohol reinforcement and naltrexone's actions using manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI).

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May
2016

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a class of integral membrane proteins mediating intercellular interactions of fundamental physiological importance for survival including regulation of food intake, blood pressure, and hormonal sensing signaling, among other roles. Homeostatic alterations in the physiological status of GPCRs are often associated with underlying causes of disease, and to date, several orphan GPCRs are still uncharacterized. Findings from our previous study demonstrate that the Rhodopsin family protein GPR162 is widely expressed in GABAergic as well as other neurons within the mouse hippocampus, whereas extensive expression is observed in hypothalamus, amygdala, and ventral tegmental area, regions strictly interconnected and involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis and hedonic feeding.

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Jul
2015

Loss of control over drinking is a key deficit in alcoholism causally associated with malfunction of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), but underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms remain unclear. Cue-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking activates a subset of mPFC neurons in rats, identified by their common expression of the activity marker cFos and comprised of both principal and interneurons. Here, we used cFos-lacZ and pCAG-lacZ transgenic rats for activity-dependent or nonselective inactivation of neurons, respectively, which by their lacZ encoded β-galactosidase activity convert the inactive prodrug Daun02 into the neurotoxin daunorubicin.

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Mar
2016

Preclinical studies revealed contribution of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) to a variety of neuropsychiatric diseases including alcoholism, but development of NMDAR antagonists for therapeutic use has been a challenge, in part due to severe side effects. One of the key intracellular events resulting from stimulation of NMDAR is activation of calpains-calcium-dependent cysteine proteases. Here we studied whether inhibition of calpains would produce therapeutic-like effects of NMDAR antagonists but without their NMDAR-mediated side-effect profile.

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Dec
1969

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is sporadic (SALS) in 90% of cases and has complex environmental and genetic influences. Nogo protein inhibits neurite outgrowth and is overexpressed in muscle in ALS. Our aims were to study the reticulon 4 receptor gene RTN4R which encodes Nogo 1 receptor (NgR1) in SALS, to test if the variants were associated with variable expression of the gene and whether NgR1 protein expression was modified in a transgenic mouse model of ALS.

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Jun
2015

The genetic component of alcohol use disorder is substantial, but monozygotic twin discordance indicates a role for nonheritable differences that could be mediated by epigenetics. Despite growing evidence associating epigenetics and psychiatric disorders, it is unclear how epigenetics, particularly DNA methylation, relate to brain function and behavior, including drinking behavior.
The authors carried out a genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation of 18 monozygotic twin pairs discordant for alcohol use disorder and validated differentially methylated regions.

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Aug
2015

The endogenous opioid system is involved in the pathophysiology of alcohol-use disorders. Genetic variants of the opioid system alter neural and behavioral responses to alcohol. In particular, a single nucleotide polymorphism rs1799971 (A118G) in the mu-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1) is suggested to modulate alcohol-related phenotypes and neural response in the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic system.

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May
2015

It has been proposed that therapeutic responses to naltrexone in alcoholism are moderated by variation at the mu-opioid receptor gene locus (OPRM1). This remains controversial because human results vary and no prospectively genotyped studies have been reported. We generated humanized mice carrying the respective human OPRM1 A118G alleles.

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Mar
2015

'Omics' techniques are widely used to identify novel mechanisms underlying brain function and pathology. Here we applied a novel metabolomics approach to further ascertain the role of frontostriatal brain regions for the expression of addiction-like behaviors in rat models of alcoholism. Rats were made alcohol dependent via chronic intermittent alcohol vapor exposure.

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Dec
1969

The striatum plays a key role in motor learning. Striatal function depends strongly on dopaminergic neurotransmission, but little is known about neuroadaptions of the dopamine system during striatal learning. Using an established task that allows differentiation between acquisition and consolidation of motor learning, we here investigate D1 and D2-like receptor binding and transcriptional levels after initial and long-term training of mice.

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Jan
2015

Rational development of novel therapeutic strategies for alcoholism requires understanding of its underlying neurobiology and pathophysiology. Obtaining this knowledge largely relies on animal studies. Thus, choosing the appropriate animal model is one of the most critical steps in pre-clinical medication development.

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Nov
2015

The neuroanatomical and neurochemical basis of alcohol reward has been studied extensively, but global alterations of neural activity in reward circuits during chronic alcohol use remain poorly described. Here, we measured brain activity changes produced by long-term voluntary alcohol drinking in the alcohol-preferring AA (Alko alcohol) rats using manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI). MEMRI is based on the ability of paramagnetic manganese ions to accumulate in excitable neurons and thereby enhance the T1-weighted signal in activated brain areas.

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Jan
2015

Genetic factors have as large role as environmental factors in the etiology of alcohol dependence (AD). Although genome-wide association studies (GWAS) enable systematic searches for loci not hitherto implicated in the etiology of AD, many true findings may be missed owing to correction for multiple testing. The aim of the present study was to circumvent this limitation by searching for biological system-level differences, and then following up these findings in humans and animals.

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Dec
2013

The rewarding effects of alcohol have been attributed to interactions between opioid and dopaminergic system within the mesolimbic reward pathway. We have previously shown that ablation of β-arrestin 2 (Arrb2), a crucial regulator of μ-opioid receptor function, attenuates alcohol-induced hyperlocomotion and c-fos activation in the nucleus accumbens.
Here, we further investigated the role of Arrb2 in modulating alcohol-induced dopamine (DA) release and conditioned place preference (CPP).

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Feb
2013

A key deficit in alcohol dependence is disrupted prefrontal function leading to excessive alcohol seeking, but the molecular events underlying the emergence of addictive responses remain unknown. Here we show by convergent transcriptome analysis that the pyramidal neurons of the infralimbic cortex are particularly vulnerable for the long-term effects of chronic intermittent ethanol intoxication. These neurons exhibit a pronounced deficit in metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 2 (mGluR(2)).

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Dec
1969

The comparability of gene expression between blood and brain tissues is a central issue in neuropsychiatric research where the analysis of molecular mechanisms in the brain is of high importance for the understanding of the diseases and the discovery of biomarkers. However, the accessibility of brain tissue is limited. Therefore, knowledge about how easily accessible peripheral tissue, e.

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Dec
2012

The firing of mesolimbic dopamine neurons is important for drug-induced reinforcement, although underlying genetic factors remain poorly understood. In a recent genome-wide association metaanalysis of alcohol intake, we identified a suggestive association of SNP rs26907 in the ras-specific guanine-nucleotide releasing factor 2 (RASGRF2) gene, encoding a protein that mediates Ca(2+)-dependent activation of the ERK pathway. We performed functional characterization of this gene in relation to alcohol-related phenotypes and mesolimbic dopamine function in both mice and adolescent humans.

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Dec
2011

The Rhodopsin family of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) includes the phylogenetic α-group consisting of about 100 human members. The α-group is the only group of GPCRs that has many receptors for biogenic amines which are major drug targets. Several members of this group are orphan receptors and their functions are elusive.

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Nov
2011

The most common functional single nucleotide polymorphism of the human OPRM1 gene, A118G, has been shown to be associated with interindividual differences in opioid analgesic requirements, particularly with morphine, in patients with acute postoperative pain. The purpose of this study was to examine whether this polymorphism would modulate the morphine and fentanyl pharmacological profile of sensory neurons isolated from a humanized mouse model homozygous for either the 118A or 118G allele.
The coupling of wild-type and mutant μ opioid receptors to voltage-gated Ca channels after exposure to either ligand was examined by employing the whole cell variant of the patch-clamp technique in acutely dissociated trigeminal ganglion neurons.

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Jun
2012

In alcoholism, excessive glutamatergic neurotransmission has long been implicated in the acute withdrawal syndrome and as a key signal for dependence-related neuroplasticity. Our understanding of this pathophysiological mechanism originates largely from animal studies, but human data are needed for translation into successful medication development.
We measured brain glutamate levels during detoxification in alcohol-dependent patients (n = 47) and in healthy control subjects (n = 57) as well as in a rat model of alcoholism by state-of-the-art ¹H-magnetic magnetic resonance spectroscopy at 3 and 9.

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Apr
2011

Genome-wide association and genetic functional studies identify autism susceptibility candidate 2 gene (AUTS2) in the regulation of alcohol consumption.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2011 Apr 6;108(17):7119-24. Epub 2011 Apr 6.
Gunter Schumann, Lachlan J Coin, Anbarasu Lourdusamy, Pimphen Charoen, Karen H Berger, David Stacey, Sylvane Desrivières, Fazil A Aliev, Anokhi A Khan, Najaf Amin, Yurii S Aulchenko, Georgy Bakalkin, Stephan J Bakker, Beverley Balkau, Joline W Beulens, Ainhoa Bilbao, Rudolf A de Boer, Delphine Beury, Michiel L Bots, Elemi J Breetvelt, Stéphane Cauchi, Christine Cavalcanti-Proença, John C Chambers, Toni-Kim Clarke, Norbert Dahmen, Eco J de Geus, Danielle Dick, Francesca Ducci, Alanna Easton, Howard J Edenberg, Tõnu Esko, Tõnu Esk, Alberto Fernández-Medarde, Tatiana Foroud, Nelson B Freimer, Jean-Antoine Girault, Diederick E Grobbee, Simonetta Guarrera, Daniel F Gudbjartsson, Anna-Liisa Hartikainen, Andrew C Heath, Victor Hesselbrock, Albert Hofman, Jouke-Jan Hottenga, Matti K Isohanni, Jaakko Kaprio, Kay-Tee Khaw, Brigitte Kuehnel, Jaana Laitinen, Stéphane Lobbens, Jian'an Luan, Massimo Mangino, Matthieu Maroteaux, Giuseppe Matullo, Mark I McCarthy, Christian Mueller, Gerjan Navis, Mattijs E Numans, Alejandro Núñez, Dale R Nyholt, Charlotte N Onland-Moret, Ben A Oostra, Paul F O'Reilly, Miklos Palkovits, Brenda W Penninx, Silvia Polidoro, Anneli Pouta, Inga Prokopenko, Fulvio Ricceri, Eugenio Santos, Johannes H Smit, Nicole Soranzo, Kijoung Song, Ulla Sovio, Michael Stumvoll, Ida Surakk, Thorgeir E Thorgeirsson, Unnur Thorsteinsdottir, Claire Troakes, Thorarinn Tyrfingsson, Anke Tönjes, Cuno S Uiterwaal, Andre G Uitterlinden, Pim van der Harst, Yvonne T van der Schouw, Oliver Staehlin, Nicole Vogelzangs, Peter Vollenweider, Gerard Waeber, Nicholas J Wareham, Dawn M Waterworth, John B Whitfield, Erich H Wichmann, Gonneke Willemsen, Jacqueline C Witteman, Xin Yuan, Guangju Zhai, Jing H Zhao, Weihua Zhang, Nicholas G Martin, Andres Metspalu, Angela Doering, James Scott, Tim D Spector, Ruth J Loos, Dorret I Boomsma, Vincent Mooser, Leena Peltonen, Kari Stefansson, Cornelia M van Duijn, Paolo Vineis, Wolfgang H Sommer, Jaspal S Kooner, Rainer Spanagel, Ulrike A Heberlein, Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, Paul Elliott
Alcohol consumption is a moderately heritable trait, but the genetic basis in humans is largely unknown, despite its clinical and societal importance. We report a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of ∼2.5 million directly genotyped or imputed SNPs with alcohol consumption (gram per day per kilogram body weight) among 12 population-based samples of European ancestry, comprising 26,316 individuals, with replication genotyping in an additional 21,185 individuals.

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Oct
2011

A major hypothesis of depression postulates that a dysregulation of the neurotrophin systems is directly involved in the pathophysiology of depression, and that restoration of such deficits may underlie the therapeutic efficacy of antidepressant treatment. One key finding supporting this hypothesis is upregulation of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus after antidepressant treatment. Here, we further test the hypothesis of BDNF involvement in antidepressant action in a genetic rat model of depression after chronic oral treatment with escitalopram, nortriptyline or placebo.

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Dec
2010

Several components in the Wnt pathway, including β-catenin and glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta, have been implied in AD pathogenesis. Here, mRNA brain levels from five-month-old tg-ArcSwe and nontransgenic mice were compared using Affymetrix microarray analysis. With surprisingly small overall changes, Wnt signaling was the most affected pathway with altered expression of nine genes in tg-ArcSwe mice.

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Oct
2010

Alcohol drinking is highly prevalent in many cultures and contributes to the global burden of disease. In fact, it was shown that alcohol constitutes 3.2% of all worldwide deaths in the year 2006 and is linked to more than 60 diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, liver cirrhosis, neuropsychiatric disorders, injuries and foetal alcohol syndrome.

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Dec
1969

Much research on experimental animals that is aimed to decipher genetic factors involved in alcoholism has been devoted to either models of innate alcohol-related phenotypes or responses after acute alcohol challenge. Such focus has, however, limitations when it comes to the pathogenetic mechanism underlying alcohol addiction, because the progression into the disorder takes years and genetic as well as environmental factors may exert different influences along this trajectory. Animal models of the neuroadaptations involved in the development of dependence exist, but have been difficult to implement for genetic and genomics analysis.

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Oct
2010

Residual dysfunction of multiple neurotransmitter systems due to chronic alcohol use is likely responsible for the occurrence of compulsive alcohol seeking during abstinence and relapse behavior. There is increasing evidence that glycine, which activates both glycine and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors, contributes to excessive alcohol consumption. We therefore hypothesized that the blockade of glycine transporter 1 might interfere with compulsive alcohol consumption and relapse behavior.

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Aug
2010

Studies in humans and animals suggest a role for NPY in the mediation of behavioral stress responses. Here, we examined whether the NPY promoter variant rs16147:T>C is functional for expression of NPY in a brain region relevant for behavioral control, anxiety and depression, the anterior cingulate cortex. In silico analysis of DNA structural profile changes produced by rs16147 variation suggests allelic differences in protein binding at the rs16147 site.

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Jul
2010

The reinforcing properties of ethanol are in part attributed to interactions between opioid and dopaminergic signaling pathways, but intracellular mediators of such interactions are poorly understood. Here we report that an acute ethanol challenge induces a robust phosphorylation of two key signal transduction kinases, AKT and DARPP-32, in the striatum of mice. Ethanol-induced AKT phosphorylation was blocked by the opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone but unaffected by blockade of dopamine D2 receptors via sulpiride.

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Apr
2010

Neuropeptide Y (NPY) counters stress and is involved in neuroadaptations that drive escalated alcohol drinking in rodents. In humans, low NPY expression predicts amygdala response and emotional reactivity. Genetic variation that affects the NPY system could moderate stress resilience and susceptibility to alcohol dependence.

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Jun
2010

Alcohol dependence leads to persistent neuroadaptations, potentially related to structural plasticity. Previous work has shown that hippocampal neurogenesis is modulated by alcohol, but effects of chronic alcohol on neurogenesis in the forebrain subventricular zone (SVZ) have not been reported. Effects in this region may be relevant for the impairments in olfactory discrimination present in alcoholism.

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Feb
2010

Reinstatement of responding to a previously alcohol-associated lever following extinction is an established model of relapse-like behavior and can be triggered by stress exposure. Here, we examined whether neuropeptide Y (NPY), an endogenous anti-stress mediator, blocks reinstatement of alcohol-seeking induced by the pharmacological stressor yohimbine.
NPY [5.

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Nov
2010

Understanding the pathophysiology of addictive disorders is critical for development of new treatments. A major focus of addiction research has for a long time been on systems that mediate acute positively reinforcing effects of addictive drugs, most prominently the mesolimbic dopaminergic (DA) system and its connections. This research line has been successful in shedding light on the physiology of both natural and drug reward, but has not led to therapeutic breakthroughs.

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Jul
2009

Alcohol dependence is a serious and common public health problem. It is well established that genetic factors play a major role in the development of this disorder. Identification of genes that contribute to alcohol dependence will improve our understanding of the mechanisms that underlie this disorder.

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Mar
2009

Intracellular signalling pathways emerge as key mediators of the molecular and behavioural effects of addictive drugs including ethanol. Previously, we demonstrated that the innate high ethanol preference in AA rats is driven by dysfunctional endocannabinoid signalling in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Here, we report that acute ethanol challenge, at a dose commonly regarded as reinforcing, strongly phosphorylates glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK-3beta) in this region with corresponding increased phosphorylation of AKT, a major regulator of GSK-3beta.

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Jun
2008

The brain renin-angiotensin system (RAS) participates importantly in the regulation of endocrine, autonomic, and behavioral response to stress. Recent data indicate that central action of AT(1) receptor antagonists can reduce anxiety symptoms in experimental animals. Furthermore, central inhibition of RAS activity decreases ethanol intake in an animal model of alcoholism.

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Apr
2008

Mitogen-activated and extracellular regulated kinase (MEK) and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) pathways may underlie ethanol-induced neuroplasticity. Here, we used the MEK inhibitor 1,4-diamino-2,3-dicyano-1,4-bis(2-aminophenylthio)butadiene (UO126) to probe the role of MEK/ERK signaling for the cellular response to an acute ethanol challenge in rats with or without a history of ethanol dependence. Ethanol (1.

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