Basis of the gabamimetic profile of ethanol

G. R. Breese*, H. E. Criswell, M. Carta, P. D. Dodson, H. J. Hanchar, R. T. Khisti, M. Mameli, Z. Ming, A. L. Morrow, R. W. Olsen, T. S. Otis, L. H. Parsons, S. N. Penland, M. Roberto, G. R. Siggins, C. F. Valenzuela, M. Wallner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


This article summarizes the proceedings of a symposium held at the 2005 Research Society on Alcoholism meeting. The initial presentation by Dr. Wallner provided evidence that selected GABAA receptors containing the δ subunit display sensitivity to low intoxicating ethanol concentrations and this sensitivity is further increased by a mutation in the cerebellar α6 subunit, found in alcohol-hypersensitive rats. Dr. Mameli reported that ethanol affects γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) function by affecting neural circuits that influence GABA release. Dr. Parsons presented data from electrophysiological and microdialysis investigations that ethanol is capable of releasing GABA from presynaptic terminals. Dr. Morrow demonstrated that systemic ethanol increases neuroactive steroids in brain, the absence of which alters various functional responses to ethanol. Dr. Criswell presented evidence that the ability of ethanol to increase GABA was apparent in some, but not all, brain regions indicative of regional specificity. Further, Dr. Criswell demonstrated that neurosteroids alone and when synthesized locally by ethanol act postsynaptically to enhance the effect of GABA released by ethanol in a region specific manner. Collectively, this series of reports support the GABAmimetic profile of acutely administered ethanol being dependent on several specific mechanisms distinct from a direct effect on the major synaptic isoforms of GABAA receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-744
Number of pages14
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006


  • GABA Release
  • GABA Receptor Subtypes
  • Integration
  • Neural Circuits
  • Neurosteroids
  • Regional Specificity


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