Alcohol Research: Current Reviews

Alcohol Research: Current Reviews is NIAAA's peer-reviewed scientific journal, published three times a year (formerly Alcohol Research and Health).

Articles

Vol. 35, No. 1, Spring

Epigenetics-New Frontier for Alcohol Research
The term "epigenetics" is rapidly becoming one of the more important watchwords in the field of alcohol research. Put simply, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene function that occur without a change in the body's genetic code, instead relying...
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Dysregulation of microRNA Expression and Function Contributes to the Etiology of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are members of a vast, evolutionarily ancient, but poorly understood class of regulatory RNA molecules, termed non-protein-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). This means that in contrast to RNA molecules generated during gene expression (i.e.,...
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Alcohol, DNA Methylation, and Cancer
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Project, alcohol accounts for approximately 3.2 percent of all deaths per year worldwide (corresponding to 1.8 million people) and is causally related to more than 60 different...
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In Utero Alcohol Exposure, Epigenetic Changes, and Their Consequences
Alcohol exposure of the developing embryo and fetus in utero can have a wide range of detrimental effects collectively referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Researchers are intensively investigating the mechanisms that may contribute...
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Epigenetic Effects of Ethanol on the Liver and Gastrointestinal System
Epigenetic modifications are emerging as important dynamic mechanisms contributing to both transient and sustained changes in gene expression. In some cases, epigenetic changes even can be inherited, although the mechanism for this remains elusive....
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Epigenetic Events in Liver Cancer Resulting from Alcoholic Liver Disease
The molecular pathogenesis of liver cancer (i.e., hepatocellular carcinoma [HCC]) is a multistep process that involves both genetic changes, such as chromosomal abnormalities and mutations of the DNA sequence (i.e., somatic mutations), and epigenetic...
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Alcohol Metabolism and Epigenetics Changes
The concept that only DNA and proteins can impact disease states is an oversimplification. It does not take into account different metabolic pathways in which key metabolites bind to transcription factors and alter gene expression patterns that contribute...
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Epigenetic Control of Gene Expression in the Alcoholic Brain
Whether a specific gene is transcribed or repressed is determined by the specific status (i.e., conformational state) of the complex of chromosomal DNA and proteins (i.e., the chromatin) and by the recruitment of specific proteins (i.e., transcription...
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Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Cellular Differentiation: A Role for Polycomb and Trithorax Group Proteins in FAS Phenotypes?
Exposure of the developing embryo and fetus to alcohol can have profound adverse effects on physical, behavioral, and cognitive development. The resulting deficits collectively have been termed fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). They range in...
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Circadian Disruption: Potential Implications in Inflammatory and Metabolic Diseases Associated with Alcohol
Circadian Disruption and Society The circadian clock is a sophisticated mechanism that functions to synchronize (i.e., entrain) endogenous systems with the 24-hour day in a wide variety of organisms, from simple organisms such as fungi up to the...
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Epigenetic Targets for Reversing Immune Defects Caused by Alcohol Exposure
Extensive clinical and experimental data suggest that alcohol consumption has dose-dependent modulatory effects on the immune system that influence the two arms of the immune response (i.e., innate and adaptive immune responses). In many other organ...
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Vol. 34, No. 4, Winter

Effects of Stress on Alcohol Consumption
This issue of Alcohol Research: Current Reviews focuses on the impact of stress on alcohol consumption. The significance of stress on alcohol abuse recently has been reemphasized by the alcohol use problems following post-traumatic stress disorder,...
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Overview: Stress and Alcohol Use Disorders Revisited
In the 13 years since Alcohol Research & Health (now titled Alcohol Research: Current Reviews) first visited the topic of "Alcohol and Stress" (see Vol. 23, No. 4, 1999), there has been a sustained flow of new information in the field prompting...
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Stress and Alcohol: Epidemiologic Evidence
Exposure to varying forms of stress is an integral life experience that can provoke a variety of reactions. In research on alcohol, drug, and psychiatric disorders, the term "stress" often is understood to indicate any experience denoting adversity...
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Alcohol and Stress in the Military
Problematic alcohol use within the United States military has been linked to substantial financial and productivity losses. Data from 2006 revealed that excessive alcohol consumption cost the U.S. military $1.12 billion per year (Harwood et al. 2009)....
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Childhood Trauma, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Alcohol Dependence
Children exposed to severe adversity early in life are at increased risk of subsequently developing mental health problems, including alcohol dependence. In general, the onset of trauma precedes the onset of alcohol dependence. Although it is impossible...
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Anxiety and Alcohol Use Disorders: Comorbidity and Treatment Considerations
Co-occurring anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are of great interest to researchers and clinicians. Cumulative evidence from epidemiological and clinical studies over the past few decades has highlighted both the frequency and clinical...
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How Does Stress Lead to Risk of Alcohol Relapse?
It has long been known that stress I increases the risk of alcohol relapse I (Sinha 2001). Clinical observations, surveys, and epidemiological studies document an association between self-reports of stressors and subsequent return to drinking. Studies...
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Neural Pathways of Stress Integration: Relevance to Alcohol Abuse
Adaptation in the face of physical or psychological adversity is required for the survival, health, and well-being of all organisms. Adverse events, often denoted as "stressors," initiate a diverse physiological response from multiple sources, including...
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Effects of Alcohol Dependence and Withdrawal on Stress Responsiveness and Alcohol Consumption
Although stress is known to be an important contributing factor to alcohol abuse and alcoholism, the interaction between stress and alcohol drinking behavior, as well as the mechanisms underlying this interaction in the context of dependence are complex...
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Clinical Laboratory Stressors Used to Study Alcohol-Stress Relationships
A comprehensive understanding of the relationship between stress and alcohol use is important for understanding the risks of developing alcohol problems and subsequent relapse. Although the relationship is complex, substantial evidence supports that...
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Stress and the HPA Axis: Role of Glucocorticoids in Alcohol Dependence
Stress, generally defined as any stimulus that disrupts the body's internal balance (i.e., physiological homeostasis), has long been suggested to be an important correlate of uncontrolled alcohol consumption or relapse to drinking following a period...
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Genetic and Environmental Determinants of Stress Responding
The development of alcohol dependence is a complex process influenced by both genetic and environmental risk factors (Prescott and Kendler 1999). The relative contributions of genetic and environmental influences fluctuate across development. During...
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Stress, Epigenetics, and Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a complex disorder characterized by compulsive alcohol seeking and consumption that also is impacted by related psychiatric states, such as anxiety (Koob 2003; Pandey 2003). Both environmental and genetic factors influence alcohol drinking...
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Resilience to Meet the Challenge of Addiction: Psychobiology and Clinical Considerations
Evidence from different disciplines suggests that acute and chronic stress--related mechanisms play an important role in both the development and the chronic, relapsing nature of addiction (Baumeister 2003; Baumeister et al. 1994; Brady and Sinha 2005)....
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Treatment of Alcohol Dependence with Drug Antagonists of the Stress Response
Although alcohol dependence affects 4 percent of the adult population and is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2009), fewer than 15 percent of people with alcoholism...
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Stress Glossary
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH): Also known as corticotropin, is a hormone produced and secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. It is an important component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and often is produced in response to...
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Vol. 34, No. 3, Fall

New Look and New Title for NIAAA's Flagship Publication
In 2010, NIAAA marked a significant milestone, celebrating 40 years of research on alcohol abuse I and alcoholism. Throughout this time, NIAAA's journal has played an important role, raising I awareness about topics in alcohol research and ensuring...
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A Watershed Year for an Update on the Genetics of Alcoholism
It is easy to think of genetics as the study of genes, but given our I current knowledge of genetics, this definition is now considered I inadequate. Genetics is the study of differences among individuals--even between identical twins. We know that...
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Assessing the Genetic Risk for Alcohol Use Disorders
According to the World Health Organization (http://www.who. int/substance_abuse/facts/alcohol/ en/index.html), each year alcohol causes 2.5 million (3.8 percent of total) deaths and 69.4 million (4.5 percent of total) disability-adjusted life-years...
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Identifying Genetic Variation for Alcohol Dependence
Over the last decade, three large-scale projects have catalyzed a revolution in genetic technologies and studies. First, the Human Genome Project laid the foundation for modern genetic studies of disease by determining the basic sequence of the 3 billion...
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Epigenetics-Beyond the Genome in Alcoholism
Alcohol is one of the most widely used addictive drugs, and continued use and abuse can lead to the development of tolerance and dependence (Koob 2003a; Tabakoff et al. 1986). Numerous studies have shown that both genetic and environmental risk factors...
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Identifying Gene Networks Underlying the Neurobiology of Ethanol and Alcoholism
The multiple genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors that play a role in the development of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) make it difficult to identify individual genes linked to these disorders. Nevertheless, some genetic risk factors (i.e.,...
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The Impact of Gene-Environment Interaction on Alcohol Use Disorders
This article explores interactions between genetic and environmental effects on alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Two contrasting ideas define what it means to have genes and environment interact. The first approach--the one that this article will focus...
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Bridging Animal and Human Models: Translating from (and to) Animal Genetics
Alcoholism is a complex disorder arising from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) (American Psychiatric Association 1994) requires that three of seven...
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Genes Contributing to the Development of Alcoholism: An Overview
A major goal of genetic research into alcoholism and related traits is to better understand the biology underlying this disease by identifying specific genes in which variations contribute to a person's risk of developing the disease and then examining...
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Genes Encoding Enzymes Involved in Ethanol Metabolism
The duration and extent of the body's exposure to beverage alcohol (i.e., ethanol) is the primary determinant of ethanol's pleiotropic effects on human health (Edenberg 2007). The time course of its concentration and the concentration of its byproducts...
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Alcohol Dependence and Genes Encoding [Alpha]2 and [Gamma]1 [GABA.Sub.A] Receptor Subunits: Insights from Humans and Mice
Even though the consequences of alcohol dependence (AD) clearly are devastating and obvious to observers, the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of the disease are far from clear and understood. The search for these mechanisms is made...
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Circadian Genes, the Stress Axis, and Alcoholism
Alcohol abuse and dependence are estimated to affect 1 in 8 adults in the United States and several hundred million people worldwide (Grant et al. 2004). To define at-risk populations and develop better treatments, it is important to further identify...
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Discovering Genes Involved in Alcohol Dependence and Other Alcohol Responses Role of Animal Models: Role of Animal Models
A host of biological (i.e., genetic) and environmental factors interact throughout the addictive process to influence alcohol use and abuse. These processes are accompanied by a number of behavioral and neural events that include, but are not limited...
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Genetics Glossary
Agonist: An agent that mimics the actions or effects of another agent at a receptor (e.g., a drug that mimics the effects of a neurotransmitter). Allele: One of two or more forms of a gene that reside at the same position on a pair of chromosomes;...
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Genetic and Genomic Web Resources for Research on Alcohol Use and Abuse
There are two major ways of publishing scientific data and results: (1) the standard peer-reviewed paper, which dates back to volume 1 of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1665; and (2) online distribution of data, resources, and...
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Vol. 34, No. 3, Spring

Using Genetically Engineered Animal Models in the Postgenomic Era to Understand Gene Function in Alcoholism
During the first decade of the new millennium, remarkable advances in technology allowed investigators in all areas of biological research to collect massive amounts of genetic data at an unprecedented rate. The genomics revolution, which began with...
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