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Alcohol Alcohol. 2005 Jan-Feb;40(1):63-75. Epub 2004 Nov 29.

Alcohol and gene expression in the central nervous system.

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  • 1Center for the Neurobehavioral Study of Alcohol, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.



To describe recent research focusing on the analysis of gene and protein expression relevant to understanding ethanol consumption, dependence and effects, in order to identify common themes.


A selective literature search was used to collate the relevant data.


Over 160 genes have been individually assessed before or after ethanol administration, as well as in genetically selected lines. Techniques for studying gene expression include northern blots, differential display, real time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and in situ hybridization. More recently, high throughput functional genomic technology, such as DNA microarrays, has been used to examine gene expression. Recent gene expression analyses have dramatically increased the number of candidate genes (nine array papers have illuminated 600 novel gene transcripts that may contribute to alcohol abuse and alcoholism).


Although functional genomic experiments (transcriptome analysis) have failed to identify a single alcoholism gene, they have illuminated important pathways and gene products that may contribute to the risk of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

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