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Int Rev Neurobiol. 2010;91:235-88. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7742(10)91008-8.

Ethanol action on dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area: interaction with intrinsic ion channels and neurotransmitter inputs.

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Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


The dopaminergic system originating in the midbrain ventral tegmental area (VTA) has been extensively studied over the past decades as a critical neural substrate involved in the development of alcoholism and addiction to other drugs of abuse. Accumulating evidence indicates that ethanol modulates the functional output of this system by directly affecting the firing activity of VTA dopamine neurons, whereas withdrawal from chronic ethanol exposure leads to a reduction in the functional output of these neurons. This chapter will provide an update on the mechanistic investigations of the acute ethanol action on dopamine neuron activity and the neuroadaptations/plasticities in the VTA produced by previous ethanol experience.

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