Oxytocin could help treat alcohol dependence

Oxytocin could help treat alcohol dependence

Brendan J. Tunstall et al demonstrated that administration of neuropeptide oxytocin may help normalize the alcohol use disorder and thereby help reduce alcohol addiction. The research was performed using alcohol-dependent rat models. The study demonstrated that oxytocin administered systemically, intranasally or into the brain blocked excess drinking in alcohol-dependent rats. Researchers found that the effect was specific to enhanced alcohol drinking problem in alcohol-dependent models as the procedure did not affect other normal behaviours or alcohol drinking in the alcohol-independent cohort. The researchers also found that the oxytocin blocked neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) signalling in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA). CeA is a key brain region in the network affected by alcohol dependence. The study provides evidence suggesting that oxytocin likely blocks enhanced drinking by altering CeA GABA transmission. The findings provide evidence showing that aberrations in the oxytocin signalling may underlie alcohol use disorder which on targeting might prove a promising therapy in people who misuse alcohol.

 

Source: PLOS Biology April 16, 2019 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2006421

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