NIH-Supported Mouse Studies Suggest Treatment Target for Alcohol Problems
In the central nervous system, the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling pathway has been linked to processes related to learning and memory. Since alcohol abuse disorders stem in part from a maladaptive form of learning and memory, NIAAA researchers hypothesized that mTORC1 might be involved in alcohol problems.
Akinso: A molecular pathway within the brainís reward circuitry appears to contribute to alcohol abuse according to a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism study.
Noronha: The study that we are talking about shows that excessive alcohol consumption leads to an activation of a signaling complex — they're many signaling mechanisms in the brain.
Akinso: Dr. Antonio Noronha is the Director of the NIAAA's Division of Neuroscience and Behavior.
Noronha: This is a signaling complex of proteins called the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 or it's also abbreviated as mTORC1.
Akinso: MTORC1 is a signaling pathway that helps regulate cellular processes throughout the body. In the central nervous system, mTORC1 has been linked to processes related to learning and memory. Since alcohol abuse disorders stem from a maladaptive form of learning and memory, NIAAA researchers hypothesized that mTORC1 might be involved in alcohol problems according to Dr. Noronha.
Noronha: Largely we think that addiction is a maladaptive form of learning and memory. And since this pathway has been implicated in mechanisms in learning and memory, we believe that this particular pathway, the MTORC1 pathway contributes to maladaptive form of memory that leads to or results in alcohol abuse disorders including binge drinking.
Akinso: In the laboratory studies, conducted with mice, researchers measured and found an increase in mTORC1 cellular products in the nucleus accumbens of mice that had consumed alcohol, which is an indication that alcohol activates the mTORC1 pathway. The nucleus accumbens is a brain region that in both rodents and humans is part of the reward system that affects craving for alcohol and other addictive substances. Dr. Noronha explains what researchers found when using a drug to block the mTORC1 pathway.
Noronha: Rapamycin is a FDA approved drug which is available on the market. This particular drug shows to decrease excessive alcohol consumption. The authors of the paper also show that it decreases binge drinking and alcohol seeking behaviors in rodents.
Akinso: Dr. Noronha says that the findings show that the mTORC1 pathway is an important contributor to mechanisms that underlie alcohol-seeking behavior. For more information, visit www.niaaa.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Antonio Noronha
Topic: Alcohol, Alcoholism