One of the key factors of addiction mechanisms in the brain is obtaining positive emotions. For example, the alcohol getting to the brain, affects the ventral tegmental area (ventral tegmental area, VTA), also called the pleasure center. After that release dopamine, delivers a pleasant feeling. But if to block the way, alcohol will cease to be perceived as something “positive”, becoming simply a substance that does not cause dependence.
That is, as the publication Neuropharmacology, and made a team of scientists led by Professor mark Brodie from the Medical College of the University of Illinois. The studies found that alcohol inhibits potassium channel called KCNK13 located inside of the membrane releasing the neurotransmitter of neurons of the VTA. When the potassium channel is blocked, the neurons increase their activity and secrete more dopamine.
“Channel KCNK13 necessary to ensure that the alcohol stimulated the release of dopamine by these neurons. Without it, alcohol can’t do that. We assume that the channel KCNK13 is a major target for drugs that could potentially help people in the fight against alcohol addiction. This channel appears to be specific to alcohol.”
To prove their hypothesis, the scientists conducted 2 experiments. In the first laboratory animals at the genetic level has reduced the number of channels KCNK13. As a result, these mice consumed 20-30% more alcohol than their conventional counterparts. In the second experiment, the experts decided to find out how the neurons of the channels KCNK13 sensitive to alcohol. It turned out that the mice that had consumed alcohol regularly, the sensitivity is 50% higher than those who are alcohol is consumed. This means that “mouse-drinkers” are more likely to develop dependence due to the fact that they are easier to trigger the production of dopamine. The authors are quite positive about the future of his discovery.
“Currently, all available drugs reduce the impact of alcohol on the brain, akin to reducing the volume of the playback sound. Our same drug will work as the power button\shutdown.”
This and other news you can discuss in our chat in Telegram.