Scientists at Scripps Research Institute, California, US, have found that a specific stress hormone, the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) is key to the development and maintenance of alcohol dependence. It suggests development of drugs to stop substance abuse.
Working on animal(rats) models , scientists found that chemically blocking the stress factor also blocked the signs and symptoms of addiction, suggesting a potentially promising area for future drug development, said a Press release issued recently by Scripps Research Institute , California, one of the world's largest independent , non profit biomedical research organization.
Previous research had implicated CRF in alcohol dependence, but had shown the effectiveness of blocking CRF only in acute single doses of an antagonist (a substance that interferes the physiological action of another). The current study used three different types of CRF antagonists, all of which showed an anti-alcohol effect via the CRF system. In addition, the chronic administration of the antagonist for 23 days blocked the increased drinking associated with alcohol dependence.
"Research to understand alcoholism is important for society," said Associate Professor Marisa Roberto, "Our study explored what we call in the field 'the dark side' of alcohol addiction. That's the compulsion to drink, not because it is pleasurable-which has been the focus of much previous research-but because it relieves the anxiety generated by abstinence and the stressful effects of withdrawal.
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), among others. The results of the six years research are going to be published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the Press note added.