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Mouse Model Links Alcohol Intake to Marijuana-like Brain Compounds

January 21, 2003

Science Each day/NIH/Nationwide Institute On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism

Mind molecules just like the energetic compound in marijuana assist to control alcohol consumption, in keeping with new experiences by scientists on the Nationwide Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Bethesda, Maryland, and a separate NIAAA-supported group at a number of New York state analysis establishments.


In research performed with a pressure of mice identified to have a excessive choice for alcohol, the scientists discovered significantly lowered alcohol consumption in mice specifically bred to lack CB1, the mind receptor for innate marijuana-like substances often known as endocannabinoids. The impact was age dependent, the Bethesda group discovered. The New York scientists confirmed that the endocannabinoid system prompts a mind area often known as the nucleus accumbens, which performs a serious function in mediating the rewarding results of alcohol. Each teams had proven that alcohol consumption amongst regular mice of the identical alcohol-preferring pressure might be lowered by treating the animals with a drug that blocks CB1 receptors within the mind.


The brand new experiences seem within the early on-line variations of the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, Quantity 20, Quantity 3, at www.pnas.org and the Journal of Neurochemistry, Quantity 24, Quantity 4, at www.blackwell-synergy.com/servlet/useragent?func=showIssues&code=jnc within the week starting January 20, 2003 (particular dates to be decided).


“These are necessary findings,” notes NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li, M.D. “Implicating yet one more neurochemical mechanism in alcohol consumption opens one other potential avenue for the event of recent pharmacologic brokers to stop and deal with alcohol issues.”


The mind’s a number of communication pathways make use of all kinds of signaling molecules often known as neurotransmitters to relay messages from one mind cell to a different. Researchers have discovered that alcohol impacts quite a few neurotransmitters and that quite a lot of mind pathways are concerned in alcohol abuse and dependence. Figuring out exactly how alcohol interacts with mind cells and impacts mind chemistry is an ongoing focus of analysis. Data gained by means of this analysis helps scientists develop medication to decrease the will to devour alcohol and to counteract alcohol’s results.


Since their discovery within the early 1990’s, endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid receptors have been studied intensely by alcohol and drug abuse researchers. Current animal research have urged that the so-called “endocannabinoid system” is concerned in among the pharmacologic results of alcohol and in consuming conduct.


In one of many present research, researchers led by George Kunos, M.D., Ph.D., Scientific Director of NIAAA’s Division of Intramural Organic and Scientific Analysis, discovered that, among the many regular, alcohol-preferring mice–that’s, these with intact CB1 receptors–the animals’ urge for food for each alcohol and meals decreased with age. This occurred though ranges of endocannabinoids and the density of CB1 receptors have been discovered to be related within the brains of younger and previous mice.


“Though surprising,” says Dr. Kunos, “the noticed age-dependent decline in alcohol choice in mice parallels observations in people, in that just some teenage binge drinkers develop into alcoholics as adults, and that the onset of alcoholism declines with age.”


The researchers discovered a doable rationalization for this phenomenon by evaluating the effectivity of the sign despatched by the CB1 receptors in several areas of the mind in younger and previous mice. In previous mice, they discovered diminished CB1 signaling in an space often known as the limbic forebrain. The a part of the limbic forebrain often known as the nucleus accumbens performs a serious function in mediating the rewarding properties of alcohol and cannabinoids and likewise is assumed to assist regulate urge for food. The nucleus accumbens exerts its results by means of the discharge of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Alcohol ingestion sometimes elicits a sturdy launch of dopamine from the nucleus accumbens.


The second report by NIAAA-supported scientists led by Basalingappa L. Hungund, Ph.D., of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Analysis in Orangeburg, New York, enhances the findings of the Kunos analysis crew. Dr. Hungund and colleagues discovered that, along with displaying a dramatic discount in alcohol consumption, alcohol-preferring mice that lack CB1 receptors launch no dopamine from the nucleus accumbens after they drink alcohol. In mice with intact CB1 receptors, the researchers have been capable of abolish alcohol-induced launch of dopamine from the nucleus accumbens by treating the animals with a drug that blocks CB1 receptors.


“Our outcomes,” says coauthor Balapal Basavarajappa, Ph.D., “clearly recommend that the CB1 receptor system is concerned in ethanol-induced dopamine launch within the nucleus accumbens and point out that activation of the limbic dopamine system is required for the reinforcing results of alcohol. They additional recommend an interplay between the cannabinoidergic and dopaminergic methods within the reinforcing properties of medication of abuse, together with alcohol.”


“Taken collectively,” provides Dr. Kunos, “these findings present unequivocal proof for the function of endocannabinoids and CB1 in alcohol consuming conduct in rodents, and recommend that the CB1 receptor could also be a promising pharmacotherapy goal.”


The Nationwide Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a part of the Nationwide Institutes of Well being, U.S. Division of Well being and Human Providers, conducts and helps roughly 90 % of U.S. analysis on the causes, penalties, prevention, and therapy of alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol issues. NIAAA disseminates analysis findings to scientists, practitioners, coverage makers, and most people.


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