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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Disruption of alcohol-related memories by mTORC1 inhibition prevents relapse


Relapse to alcohol abuse is an important clinical issue that is frequently caused by cue-induced drug craving. Therefore, disruption of the memory for the cue-alcohol association is expected to prevent relapse. It is increasingly accepted that memories become labile and erasable soon after their reactivation through retrieval during a memory reconsolidation process that depends on protein synthesis.

Here we show that reconsolidation of alcohol-related memories triggered by the sensory properties of alcohol itself (odor and taste) activates mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) in select amygdalar and cortical regions in rats, resulting in increased levels of several synaptic proteins.

Furthermore, systemic or central amygdalar inhibition of mTORC1 during reconsolidation disrupts alcohol-associated memories, leading to a long-lasting suppression of relapse.

Our findings provide evidence that the mTORC1 pathway and its downstream substrates are crucial in alcohol-related memory reconsolidation and highlight this pathway as a therapeutic target to prevent relapse.

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