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Astrocyte Function in Alcohol Reward and Addiction

Magazine article
Authors Louise Adermark
Published in Journal of Alcoholism & Drug Dependence
Volume 3
Pages e123
ISSN 2329-6488
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages e123
Language en
Keywords astrocyte, astroglia, alcohol, ethanol
Subject categories Basic Medicine, Biological research on drug dependence, Neurobiology, Neuroscience


Glial cells, particularly astrocytes, play essential roles in the regulation of neurotransmission, metabolism, and supply of energy substrates for synaptic transmission. One astrocyte can receive inputs from several hundreds of synapses, and synchronized neuronal activity correlates with astrocyte calcium signaling. Astrocyte pathology is a common feature of ethanol exposure in both humans and animal models, and brief alcohol intake is sufficient to cause long-lasting changes in astrocyte gene expression, activity and proliferation. Recent research also suggests that astrocytes shape the rewarding sensation of ethanol, and might be involved in modulating alcohol consumption. Considering the role of astrocytes in regulating glutamate homeostasis, a crucial component of alcohol abuse disorders, the astrocyte might be an important target for the development of new pharmacological treatments of alcoholism.

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