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Can Oxytocin Treat Alcohol Addiction?

Oxytocin plays a role in social bonding and regulates stress and reward functions. Previous studies have suggested that oxytocin may help with withdrawal symptoms of drug abuse. Alcohol use disorder is characterized by a decrease in reward function and an increase in stress function. Over time, excessive alcohol can affect the normal brain function associated with the experience of pleasure, decision making and self-control. This may result in increased alcohol cravings to restore good feelings or diminish negative ones. Each year, millions of people die from alcohol-related illnesses and injuries. A new study investigates oxytocin’s effects on dependence-induced alcohol drinking. Are we close to developing a sobriety pill?

Researchers studied the impact of oxytocin during alcohol dependence to reduce alcohol drinking in alcohol-dependent rats. Oxytocin administration blocked the enhanced drinking exhibited by alcohol-dependent rats. GABA signaling was blocked by oxytocin in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA), a key region in the brain affected by alcohol dependence. This data suggests that oxytocin blocks enhanced drinking by changing GABA transmission in the CeA and may reduce the severity of alcohol withdrawal. Furthermore, oxytocin may promote behavior that is resistant to relapse and addiction. This study may provide useful insight into novel pharmaceutical targets for the treatment of people who misuse alcohol and possibly for drug addiction.

For more information: https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.2006421

Enzo Life Sciences provides a wide range of products for all your Neuroscience needs. Our platforms provide a wide range of assay kits, small molecules, antibodies, and proteins. Our Oxytocin ELISA Kit is the most sensitive, specific and flexible alternative to more costly and time-consuming methods for oxytocin detection. Our SCREEN-WELL® Neurotransmitter Library (10 plate set) contains 661 CNS receptor ligands in a 96-well format. Ideal for screening or identifying recombinant orphan G protein-coupled receptors, target validation, secondary screening, validating new assays, and for routine pharmacological applications.

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