Neurotransmitter may play a role in alcohol relapse, addiction

A study led by Indiana University on neurochemical changes associated with alcohol addiction found that the neurotransmitter glutamate plays a role in some alcohol cravings.

Alcohol dependence and alcohol use disorders occur in about 30 percent of all Americans, taking a severe toll on people’s lives, as well as on the health care system and economy. Ninety percent of all attempts to cure the dependence or abuse of alcohol result in relapse within four years. These relapses are primarily triggered by sights, sounds and situations associated with past drinking experiences.

“This is the first study to document changes in glutamate levels during exposure to alcohol cues in people with alcohol use disorders and shines a spotlight on glutamate levels as an important target for new therapies to treat the condition,” said Sharlene Newman, a professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Full story at Science Daily

In rats that can’t control glutamate, cocaine is less rewarding, staving off relapse

Rats missing a neuroreceptor that controls the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate are less amenable to the rewarding effects of cocaine, increasing their chance of kicking the habit once addicted, researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) find. Their work, appearing July 11 in Cell Reports, suggests that the receptor, which protects nerve cells from fatal inundation by excess glutamate, is involved in modulating the reward-seeking behavior associated with drug addiction.

By silencing the gene responsible for expressing the receptor, called mGluR2, the researchers studied its effect across the stages of the cocaine addiction cycle. Rats without the receptor were more likely to consume cocaine when it was made freely available but less likely to seek out cocaine when they had to demonstrate more effort to obtain it. When cocaine was no longer available to them, the rats were quicker to cease the behaviors that had previously resulted in the drug’s delivery. Even when cocaine was subsequently re-introduced, they showed reduced interest for drug seeking, constituting a lower rate of relapse.

Full story of glutamate control from control use at Science Daily