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Alcohol. 2012 Jun;46(4):303-8. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2011.12.004. Epub 2012 Mar 25.

The role of biogenic amine signaling in the bed nucleus of the stria terminals in alcohol abuse.

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Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that stress and anxiety can influence the development of alcohol use disorders. This influence is believed to be due in part to persistent adaptations in discrete brain regions that underlie stress responsivity. One structure that has been proposed to be a site of important neuroadaptations underlying this behavior is the extended amygdala. The extended amygdala is a series of extensively inter-connected limbic structures including the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST). These structures are critical regulators of behavioral and physiological activation associated with anxiety. Additionally, numerous reports have suggested that these regions are involved in increased drinking behavior associated with chronic alcohol exposure and withdrawal. The focus of this review will be to discuss the role of the BNST in regulation of behavior, to provide some insight in to the circuitry of the BNST, and to discuss the actions of the biogenic amines, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, in the BNST.

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