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Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Aug;143(2):197-216. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2014.03.001. Epub 2014 Mar 11.

GABAergic contributions to alcohol responsivity during adolescence: insights from preclinical and clinical studies.

Author information

1
Neurodevelopmental Laboratory on Addictions and Mental Health, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: msilveri@mclean.harvard.edu.

Abstract

There is a considerable body of literature demonstrating that adolescence is a unique age period, which includes rapid and dramatic maturation of behavioral, cognitive, hormonal and neurobiological systems. Most notably, adolescence is also a period of unique responsiveness to alcohol effects, with both hyposensitivity and hypersensitivity observed to the various effects of alcohol. Multiple neurotransmitter systems are undergoing fine-tuning during this critical period of brain development, including those that contribute to the rewarding effects of drugs of abuse. The role of developmental maturation of the γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA) system, however, has received less attention in contributing to age-specific alcohol sensitivities. This review integrates GABA findings from human magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies as they may translate to understanding adolescent-specific responsiveness to alcohol effects. Better understanding of the vulnerability of the GABA system both during adolescent development, and in psychiatric conditions that include alcohol dependence, could point to a putative mechanism, boosting brain GABA, that may have increased effectiveness for treating alcohol use disorders.

KEYWORDS:

Adolescent; Alcohol sensitivity; Brain; GABA; MRS

PMID:
24631274
PMCID:
PMC4454465
DOI:
10.1016/j.pharmthera.2014.03.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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