- Alcoholics may drink because they get a "bigger bang" each time they drink.
- This phenomenon is known as "behavioral sensitization."
- Behavioral sensitization is the opposite of tolerance; it is even known as "reverse tolerance."
- A neurochemical called MK-801 may block alcohol's sensitizing effects.
One of the ways by which people are believed to develop alcoholism is called "behavioral
sensitization" to the effects of alcohol. This is another way of saying that each time someone
drinks, they may find the alcohol more rewarding. In a recent study published in the March issue of
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research,
researchers explained how they may have found a
way to "block" the increasingly rewarding effects of alcohol.
"What we've tried to show in this study," said Rosana Camarini, the study's lead author who is
conducting post-doctoral research in neurology at the University of California San Francisco, "is that
it may be possible to block behavioral sensitization to alcohol by using NMDA receptor antagonists.
The specific one we studied is called MK-801."
Alcohol affects virtually every organ system in the body and alters the activity of most major
neurochemicals. Alcohol's effects on the glutamate system are of particular interest to researchers.
Glutamate acts as one of the brain's endogenous (made within the body) excitatory systems. A subtype
of glutamate receptors, the n-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, is highly sensitive to low doses of
alcohol. Evidence indicates that alcohol may interact directly with the NMDA receptor complex.
Indeed, NMDA receptors may be involved in sensitization to, tolerance of, and physical dependence on a
variety of drugs, including opiates, nicotine, antidepressants and alcohol. NMDA receptor
antagonists - in this case, MK-801 - appear to be able to "block" some of the pleasing effecPage: 1 2 3 4 Related medicine news :1
Contact: Rosana Camarini, Ph.D.
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
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