A new animal study finds that a stress-related gene and brain chemical may play a role in addiction relapse, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Researchers from NIAAA and Camerino University in Italy found that rats that showed a preference for alcohol were more sensitive to stress. Those more prone to relapse under stress were examined for genetic patterns that might offer clues to this trait. Researchers found that these rats had higher expression levels of Crhr1, a gene that encodes the stress-related corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1 (CRH-R1).
“Our findings demonstrate that the Crhr1 genotype and its expression interact with environmental stress to reinstate alcohol-seeking behavior in this animal model of excessive drinking,” said study leader Anita Hansson, Ph.D., a fellow at NIAAA’s Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies.
“This finding helps untangle the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors that influence relapse,” added NIAAA Director T-K Li, M.D. “It also points to potential approaches for treating individuals at risk for relapse.”
The research appears in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Research Reference: Hansson, A.C., et al. (2006) Variation at the rat Crhr1 locus and sensitivity to relapse into alcohol seeking induced by environmental stress. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.
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Brief-TSF addresses relapse prevention as stress relief.