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Prog Neurobiol. 2000 Mar;60(4):343-62.

Ethanol and amino acids in the central nervous system: assessment of the pharmacological actions of acamprosate.

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  • 1Universit√© catholique de Louvain, Laboratoire de Biologie du Comportement, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


Ethanol induces alterations in the central nervous system by differentially interfering with a number of neurotransmitter systems, although the mechanisms by which such effects are executed are not well understood. The present review therefore, is designed to ascertain the effect of ethanol on both excitatory and inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitters, as well as the sulphonated amino acid taurine, assayed by the microdialysis technique within specific brain regions of rat during different types of alcohol intoxication, acute and chronic, as well as during the withdrawal period. Such an understanding of these pharmacological actions of ethanol on neurotransmitters is essential in order to provide the impetus for the development of appropriate therapeutic intervention to ameliorate the multitude of neurochemical disorders induced by ethanol. In addition the possible mode of action of a new therapeutic drug for the treatment of alcoholism, acamprosate will be discussed. The first part of this review will be limited to studies of the effect of ethanol on both amino acid neurotransmitters and the sulphonated amino acid taurine, a possible neuromodulator. While, the second part will seek to establish the possible mechanism of action of a new therapeutic drug, acamprosate, which is used to combat the effects of ethanol, particularly during the craving period, as well as maintaining abstinence in weaned alcoholics.

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