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Neurochem Int. 1999 Aug;35(2):95-101.

Regulation of neuronal voltage-gated calcium channels by ethanol.

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  • 1Ernest Gallo Clinic & Research Center, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco 94110, USA.


Voltage-gated calcium channels are key regulators of neuronal excitability. Several studies indicate that intoxicating concentrations of ethanol inhibit L-type, N-type and possibly T-type channels. The effects of ethanol on other channel subtypes are not yet clear. Chronic exposure to ethanol is associated with increases in functional L-type channels and this may contribute to signs of ethanol withdrawal. Preclinical studies in animals suggest that L-type calcium channel antagonists decrease ethanol consumption and signs of alcohol withdrawal. Although L-type channel antagonists do not appear to alter the performance impairing or psychological effects of acute ethanol administration, clinical trials will be needed to determine if L-type channel antagonists reduce ethanol consumption in humans.

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