Emerging role of epigenetic mechanisms in alcohol addiction

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a complex brain disorder with a number of persistent behavioral and neurochemical manifestations. Both genetic and environmental factors are known to contribute to the development of AUD, and recent studies of alcohol exposure and subsequent changes in gene expression suggest the importance of epigenetic mechanisms.

In particular, histone modifications and DNA methylation have emerged as important regulators of gene expression and associated phenotypes of AUD.

Given the therapeutic potential of epigenetic targets, this review aims to summarize the role of epigenetic regulation in our current understanding of AUD by evaluating known epigenetic signatures of brain regions critical for addictive behavior in animal and human studies at different stages of AUD. More specifically, the effects of acute and chronic alcohol exposure, tolerance, and post-exposure withdrawal on epigenetically induced changes in gene expression and synaptic plasticity in key brain regions and associated behavioral phenotypes were discussed.

Understanding the contribution of epigenetic regulation to crucial signaling pathways may prove critical for the future development of novel biomarkers and treatment agents to alleviate or prevent AUD.

Alcohol Clin Exp Res.: Emerging role of epigenetic mechanisms in alcohol addiction

Found at Alkohol adé (german)

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