Scientists Link Chromatin Changes with Alcohol Withdrawal Anxiety

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Scientists Link Chromatin Changes with Alcohol Withdrawal Anxiety

  • Released On:April 02, 2008
  • Credits:
  • NIH News

Changes to genetic material in the brain may help induce the anxiety that is characteristic of alcohol withdrawal, according to a new study conducted in rats and supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The finding points to possible therapies to prevent withdrawal-related anxiety, a driving force behind alcohol use among dependent individuals.

"The novel mechanism described in this study is an intriguing contribution to efforts aimed at defining the complex molecular processes that underlie alcohol abuse and dependence," said NIAAA Deputy Director Kenneth Warren, Ph.D.

Previous studies have implicated a brain structure known as the amygdala in anxiety and alcohol-drinking behaviors. Other studies have shown that chemical modifications to chromatin, the complex of DNA and proteins within every cell nucleus, can influence the expression of genes and thus may affect disease processes. Such modifications to DNA or its associated proteins that do not affect the DNA sequence are collectively referred to as epigenetic changes. One typical chromatin modification involves the addition or removal of acetyl groups — common components of many molecules in biology — to or from chromatin proteins called histones.

Read more at: NIH News

Featured Profile

Subhash C. Pandey PhD

  • Joseph A. Flaherty MD, Endowed Professor of Psychiatry
  • Director, Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics
  • Professor of Biochemistry in Psychiatry
  • Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology
  • Director, Neuroscience Alcoholism Research
  • Senior VA Career Research Scientist
  • Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Illinois Chicago

(312) 413-1310
scpandeyatuic [dot] edu