Neuroactive steroids such as (3α,5α)3-hydroxypregnan-20-one (3α,5α-THP, allopregnanolone) are potent neuromodulators that enhance GABAergic neurotransmission and produce inhibitory neurobehavioral and anti-inflammatory effects. Chronic ethanol (EtOH) consumption reduces 3α,5α-THP levels in human plasma, but has brain region- and species-specific effects on central nervous system levels of 3α,5α-THP.
Cue-induced reinstatement of alcohol-seeking is a hallmark behavioral pathology of addiction. Evidence suggests that reinstatement (e.g., relapse), may be regulated by cell signaling systems that underlie neuroplasticity. A variety of plasticity events require activation of calcium calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) in components of the reward pathway, such as the nucleus accumbens and amygdala.
Neuroimmune activation is a key feature of the pathologies of numerous psychiatric disorders including alcoholism, depression, and anxiety. Both HMGB1 and IL-1β have been implicated in brain disorders. Previous studies find HMGB1 andIL-1β form heterocomplexes in vitro with enhanced immune responses, lead to our hypothesis that HMGB1 and IL-1β heterocomplexes formed in vivo to contribute to the pathology of alcoholism.
Prenatal exposure to ethanol induces a relative increase in the numbers of pyramidal tract axons relative to the number of corticospinal projection neurons in somatosensory/motor cortices in the adult rat. The present study examines the effects of ethanol on the numbers of axons in the developing caudal pyramidal tract, i.e., corticospinal axons.
Cycles of alcohol and stress are hypothesized to contribute to alcohol use disorders. How this occurs is poorly understood, although both alcohol and stress activate the neuroimmune system – the immune molecules and cells that interact with the nervous system. The effects of alcohol and stress on the neuroimmune system are mediated in part by peripheral signaling molecules.
Prenatal ethanol exposure can produce structural and functional deficits in the brain and result in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). In rodent models acute exposure to a high concentration of alcohol causes increased apoptosis in the developing brain. A single causal molecular switch that signals for this increase in apoptosis has yet to be identified.