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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Nov 16;107(46):20093-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1005554107. Epub 2010 Nov 1.

Role for mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 signaling in neuroadaptations underlying alcohol-related disorders.

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Ernest Gallo Research Center and Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94608, USA.


Alcohol addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder that includes certain maladaptive learning and memory. The serine and threonine kinase complex, mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), has been implicated in synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory by controlling protein translation. Here we show that administration of alcohol and excessive voluntary consumption of alcohol induce the activation of the mTORC1-mediated signaling pathway in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of rodents. We further show that the protein expression levels of GluR1 and Homer, two synaptic proteins whose translation has been shown to be modulated by mTORC1, are up-regulated in the NAc of rodents with a history of excessive alcohol consumption. In addition, our results document that the Food and Drug Administration-approved inhibitor of mTORC1, rapamycin, decreases expression of alcohol-induced locomotor sensitization and place preference, as well as excessive alcohol intake and seeking in preclinical rodent models of alcohol abuse. Together, our results suggest that mTORC1 within the NAc is a contributor to molecular mechanisms underlying alcohol-drinking behaviors. Furthermore, despite its massive health and socioeconomic impact worldwide, pharmacotherapies for alcohol abuse and addiction remain limited. Our data therefore put forward the possibility that targeting the mTORC1 signaling cascade is an innovative and valuable strategy for the treatment of alcohol use and abuse disorders.

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