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Channels (Austin). 2011 Jul-Aug;5(4):289-92. doi: 10.4161/chan.5.4.16577. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

The SK channel as a novel target for treating alcohol use disorders.

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Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


We recently described the SK-type potassium channel as a novel target for treatment of excessive alcohol intake.1 SK channel function is reduced in the nucleus accumbens (NAcb) core in rats consuming alcohol under intermittent (IAA) but not continuous (CAA) access, and the FDA-approved SK activator chlorzoxazone reduces the excessive alcohol intake in IAA rats but not the more moderate intake in CAA rats. Here, we discuss the implications of these and related findings for SK as a treatment for alcohol use disorders. In addition, we report that many NAcb core electrophysiological parameters related to action potential waveform or basal parameters were not altered in alcohol-drinking rats. These results are in strong contrast to those reported for cocaine, where several NAcb ion channels show adaptations after cocaine exposure. These results suggest that alcohol intake is associated with only limited ion channel neuro-adaptations in the NAcb relative to cocaine, and support the hypothesis that SK represents a selective and potent intervention to reduce excessive alcohol intake.

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