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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Drosophila larvae as a model to study physiological alcohol dependence

Alcohol addiction is a disease that includes a diverse set of phenotypes. Functional alcohol tolerance is an adaptation to the effects of alcohol that restores neuronal homeostatic balance while the drug is present.

When the drug is suddenly withheld, these adaptations unbalance the nervous system and are thought to be the origin of some withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms, which can be a motivating factor for alcoholics to relapse, are taken as evidence of physiological ethanol dependence. Both tolerance and withdrawal symptoms are diagnostic criteria for alcoholism.

Recent studies have demonstrated that the larvae of Drosophila show conserved alcohol tolerance and withdrawal phenotypes indicating that Drosophila genetics can now be used in studying this endophenotype of alcohol addiction.

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