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J Neural Transm Suppl. 2000;(60):187-96.

Homocysteine and alcoholism.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Federal Republic of Germany. stefan.bleich@t-online.de

Abstract

Chronic alcohol consumption can induce alterations in the function and morphology of most if not all brain systems and structures. However, the exact mechanism of brain damage in alcoholics remains unknown. Partial recovery of brain function with abstinence suggests that a proportion of the deficits must be functional in origin (i.e. plastic changes of nerve cells) while neuronal loss from selected brain regions indicates permanent and irreversible damage. There is growing evidence that chronic alcoholism is associated with a derangement in the sulfur amino acid metabolism. Recently, it has been shown that excitatory amino acid (EAA) neurotransmitters and homocysteine levels are elevated in patients who underwent withdrawal from alcohol. Furthermore, it has been found that homocysteine induces neuronal cell damage by stimulating NMDA receptors as well as by producing free radicals. Homocysteine neurotoxicity via overstimulation of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors may contribute to the pathogenesis of both brain shrinkage and withdrawal seizures linked to alcoholism.

PMID:
11205139
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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