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Neuropharmacology. 2013 Apr;67:223-32. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.09.022. Epub 2012 Nov 13.

New insights on neurobiological mechanisms underlying alcohol addiction.

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Division of Neuroscience and Behavior, NIAAA/NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Alcohol dependence/addiction is mediated by complex neural mechanisms that involve multiple brain circuits and neuroadaptive changes in a variety of neurotransmitter and neuropeptide systems. Although recent studies have provided substantial information on the neurobiological mechanisms that drive alcohol drinking behavior, significant challenges remain in understanding how alcohol-induced neuroadaptations occur and how different neurocircuits and pathways cross-talk. This review article highlights recent progress in understanding neural mechanisms of alcohol addiction from the perspectives of the development and maintenance of alcohol dependence. It provides insights on cross talks of different mechanisms and reviews the latest studies on metaplasticity, structural plasticity, interface of reward and stress pathways, and cross-talk of different neural signaling systems involved in binge-like drinking and alcohol dependence.

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