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.