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Neurosci Lett. 2015 Aug 5;601:11-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2015.01.051. Epub 2015 Jan 23.

Molecular mechanisms of synaptic remodeling in alcoholism.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA; Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA. Electronic address: scpandey@uic.edu.

Abstract

Alcohol use and alcohol addiction represent dysfunctional brain circuits resulting from neuroadaptive changes during protracted alcohol exposure and its withdrawal. Alcohol exerts a potent effect on synaptic plasticity and dendritic spine formation in specific brain regions, providing a neuroanatomical substrate for the pathophysiology of alcoholism. Epigenetics has recently emerged as a critical regulator of gene expression and synaptic plasticity-related events in the brain. Alcohol exposure and withdrawal induce changes in crucial epigenetic processes in the emotional brain circuitry (amygdala) that may be relevant to the negative affective state defined as the "dark side" of addiction. Here, we review the literature concerning synaptic plasticity and epigenetics, with a particular focus on molecular events related to dendritic remodeling during alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Targeting epigenetic processes that modulate synaptic plasticity may yield novel treatments for alcoholism.

KEYWORDS:

Alcoholism; Amygdala; Dendritic spines; Epigenetics; Histone acetylation; Histone deacetylases; Synaptic plasticity

PMID:
25623036
PMCID:
PMC4506731
DOI:
10.1016/j.neulet.2015.01.051
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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