HITTING THE BOTTLE WITH THE GENETIC BASIS FOR ALCOHOLISM
Alcoholism is a major health concern and genetic factors play an important role in the development and maintenance of alcohol drinking behaviors. In a new study appearing on October 3 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Subhash Pandey and colleagues from The University of Illinois show that decreased function of the CREB gene transcription factor in an area of the brain called the central amygdala is involved in anxiety and excessive alcohol drinking behavior.
The authors use rats that either prefer or do not prefer alcohol, and they measured the levels of CREB, phosphorylated CREB, and other proteins in the central amygdala, the part of the brain involved in assigning emotional significance to sensory input. They show that decreased CREB function in this area is important for maintaining high anxiety and excessive alcohol drinking. This genetic determinant for alcoholism creates a vulnerable neural substrate that interacts with alcohol to create abuse potential.
In a related commentary, Gary Wand writes, "these provocative data suggest that a CREB-depedent neuromechanism underlies high anxiety-like and excessive alcohol-drinking behavior."
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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