Big news in alcohol addiction: New findings on growth factor pathways BDNF, insulin, and GDNF

Patricia H. Janak, Fred W. Wolf, Ulrike Heberlein, Subhash C. Pandey, Marian L. Logrip, Dorit Ron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, it has become clear that growth factors are not only critical for the development of the central nervous system (CNS) but may also be important contributors to other neuronal functions in the adult brain. This symposium, presented at the 2005 RSA meeting, discussed evidence to support the hypothesis that alterations in growth factor pathways produce dramatic changes in the effects of alcohol on the CNS. The 4 speakers showed that the behavioral effects of alcohol in the adult are regulated by 3 growth factors, insulin, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Dr. Wolf from the Heberlein laboratory presented findings obtained from genetic manipulations in Drosophila melanogaster, demonstrating that the insulin pathway controls sensitivity to the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Marian Logrip from the Ron and Janak laboratories presented evidence obtained in rodents that low concentrations of alcohol increase the expression of BDNF in the brain to regulate alcohol consumption. Dr. Pandey showed that amygdalar BDNF regulates alcohol's anxiolytic effects and preference. Finally, Dr. Janak presented evidence that increases in the expression of GDNF in the midbrain reduce alcohol self-administration in rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-221
Number of pages8
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Drosophila
  • Ethanol
  • Growth Factors
  • Mouse
  • Rat
  • Self-administration
  • Striatum
  • Ventral Tegmental Area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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