Higher Estrogen Levels Linked to Increased Alcohol Sensitivity in Brain’s ‘Reward Center’
The reward center of the brain is much more attuned to the pleasurable effects of alcohol when estrogen levels are elevated, an effect that may underlie the development of addiction in women, according to a study on mice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Led by Amy Lasek, assistant professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine, researchers found that neurons in a region of the brain called the ventral tegmental area, or VTA (also known as the “reward center”), fired most rapidly in response to alcohol when their estrogen levels were high. This response, according to their findings, is mediated through receptors on dopamine-emitting neurons in the VTA.
“When estrogen levels are higher, alcohol is much more rewarding,” said Lasek, who is the corresponding author on the paper and a researcher in the UIC Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics. “Women may be more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol or more likely to overindulge during certain stages of their cycle when estrogen levels are higher, or may be more likely to seek out alcohol during those stages.”
Click here to read more.
2018 Neurosafe Symposium
August 2-3, 2018; Minneapolis
2018 Tennessee Neurological Society Annual Meeting
August 3-4, 2018; Franklin, TN
2018 From Cranial to Spine: An Overview of Neurological Topics for the Advanced Practice Provider
August 8-11, 2018; Los Angeles
2018 Managing Coding and Reimbursement Challenges
August 9-11, 2018; Chicago
Comprehensive Endoscopic Endonasal Surgery of the Skull Base Course
August 15-18, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA