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Laboratory models of alcoholism: treatment target identification and insight into mechanisms

Nature Neuroscience volume 8, pages 14711480 (2005) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Laboratory models, including animal tissues and live animals, have proven useful for discovery of molecular targets of alcohol action as well as for characterization of genetic and environmental factors that influence alcohol's neural actions. Here we consider strengths and weaknesses of laboratory models used in alcohol research and analyze the limitations of using animals to model a complex human disease. We describe targets for the neural actions of alcohol, and we review studies in which animal models were used to examine excessive alcohol drinking and to discover genes that may contribute to risk for alcoholism. Despite some limitations of the laboratory models used in alcohol research, these experimental approaches are likely to contribute to the development of new therapies for alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are supported by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (J.C.C.), and the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA10760, AA12714 and AA13519 to J.C.C) and the Division of Intramural Clinical and Basic Research (D.M.L.). We thank M. Rutledge-Gorman for help in preparing the manuscript, and G. McClearn for many previous versions of Figure 2.

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  1. David M. Lovinger is in the Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland 20852, USA lovindav@mail.nih.gov

    • David M Lovinger
  2. John C. Crabbe is in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University, the Portland Alcohol Research Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland, Oregon 97239, USA.

    • John C Crabbe

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1581

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