Higher estrogen levels linked to increased alcohol sensitivity in brain's "reward center"

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Higher estrogen levels linked to increased alcohol sensitivity in brain's "reward center"

Drs. Lasek and Brodie
Drs. Lasek and Brodie

The reward center of the brain is much more attuned to the pleasurable effects of alcohol when estrogen levels are elevated, an effect that may underlie the development of addiction in women, according to a study on mice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Led by Amy Lasek, assistant professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine, researchers found that neurons in a region of the brain called the ventral tegmental area, or VTA (also known as the “reward center”), fired most rapidly in response to alcohol when their estrogen levels were high. This response, according to their findings published online in the journal PLOS ONE, is mediated through receptors on dopamine-emitting neurons in the VTA.

Read more at: UIC Today

Featured Researchers

Mark Brodie PhD

  • Professor
  • Department of Physiology & Biophysics
  • Department of Psychiatry
  • Director: Master of Science in Medical Physiology Program

(312) 996-2373
(312) 996-1414
mbrodieatuic [dot] edu

Amy W. Lasek PhD

  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Anatomy and Cell Biology

(312) 355-1593
alasekatuic [dot] edu