Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain mechanism may explain alcohol cravings that drive relapse

Date:
March 11, 2010
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
New research provides exciting insight into the molecular mechanisms associated with addiction and relapse. The study uncovers a crucial mechanism that facilitates motivation for alcohol after extended abstinence and opens new avenues for potential therapeutic intervention.

New research provides exciting insight into the molecular mechanisms associated with addiction and relapse. The study, published by Cell Press in the March 11 issue of the journal Neuron, uncovers a crucial mechanism that facilitates motivation for alcohol after extended abstinence and opens new avenues for potential therapeutic intervention.

Previous work has suggested that people, places, and objects associated with alcohol use are potent triggers for eliciting relapse and that cravings for both alcohol and drugs can increase across protracted abstinence. However, the specific molecular mechanisms that underlie pathological alcohol seeking are not well defined.

"Animal paradigms can model crucial aspects of human addiction, and these paradigms will help elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms that drive drug-seeking behaviors and, as a consequence, facilitate the development of novel therapeutic interventions for addiction," explains lead study author Dr. F. Woodward Hopf from the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Hopf and colleagues were particularly interested in studying how alcohol addiction impacted a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens (NAcb) core that is known to be important for allowing stimuli to drive motivated, goal-directed behaviors. The researchers examined the brains of rats that had experienced nearly 2 months of alcohol or sugar self-administration followed by a 3- to 5-week abstinence period.

The rats who had consumed alcohol, but not those who had consumed sugar, exhibited an increased electrical activity in the NAcb core after abstinence. The increased activity was due to an inhibition of small-conductance calcium-activated potassium channels (SK).

Importantly, pharmacological activation of SK channels produced greater inhibition of NAcb activity in the alcohol- versus sucrose-abstinent rats and significantly reduced alcohol but not sucrose seeking after abstinence. The authors concluded that decreased SK currents and increased excitability in the NAcb core represents a critical mechanism that facilitates motivation to seek alcohol after abstinence.

"Our findings are particularly exciting because the FDA-approved drug chlorzoxazone, which has been used for more than 30 years as a muscle relaxant, can activate SK channels," says Dr. Antonello Bonci, a senior author on the project. "Although SK channels are not the only target of this drug and it can present a variety of clinical side effects, it provides an unexpected and very exciting opportunity to design human clinical trials to examine whether chlorzoxazone, or other SK activators, reduce excessive or pathological alcohol drinking."

The researchers include F. Woodward Hopf, M. Scott Bowers, Shao-Ju Chang, Billy T. Chen, Miguel Martin, Taban Seif, Saemi L. Cho, Kay Tye, and Antonello Bonci, of University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. F. Woodward Hopf, M. Scott Bowers, Shao-Ju Chang, Billy T. Chen, Miguel Martin, Taban Seif, Saemi L. Cho, Kay Tye, Antonello Bonci. Reduced Nucleus Accumbens SK Channel Activity Enhances Alcohol Seeking during Abstinence. Neuron, 2010; 65 (5): 682-694 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.02.015

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Brain mechanism may explain alcohol cravings that drive relapse." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100310134146.htm>.
Cell Press. (2010, March 11). Brain mechanism may explain alcohol cravings that drive relapse. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100310134146.htm
Cell Press. "Brain mechanism may explain alcohol cravings that drive relapse." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100310134146.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins