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GLP-1 signaling and alcohol-mediated behaviors; preclinical and clinical evidence.

Review article
Authors Elisabeth Jerlhag
Published in Neuropharmacology
Volume 136
Issue Special issue
Pages 343-349
ISSN 1873-7064
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Pages 343-349
Language en
Keywords Dopamine; Gut-brain axis; Incentive salience; Motivation; Reinforcement
Subject categories Neuroscience


Alcohol addiction, affecting approximately four percent of the population, contributes significantly to the global burden of diseases and is a substantial cost to the society. The neurochemical mechanisms regulating alcohol mediated behaviors is complex and in more recent years a new physiological role of the gut-brain peptides, traditionally known to regulate appetite and food intake, have been suggested. Indeed, regulators of alcohol-mediated behaviors. One of these gut-brain peptides is the annorexigenic peptide glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), Preclinical studies show that GLP-1 receptor activation, either by GLP-1 or analogues, attenuate the ability of alcohol to activate the mesolimbic dopamine system as well as decrease alcohol consumption and operant self-administration. In further support for the endogenous GLP-1 system in addiction processes are the experimental data showing that a GLP-1 receptor antagonist increases alcohol intake. Moreover, GLP-1 receptor agonists prevent the ability of other addictive drugs to activate the mesolimbic dopamine system. The number of clinical studies is limited, but show i) that genetic variation in the GLP-1 receptor gene is associated with alcohol addiction as well as increased alcohol infusion in humans, ii) that plasma levels of GLP-1 are associated with the subjective experience of cocaine and iii) that a GLP-1 receptor agonist reduces alcohol intake in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus. These experimental and clinical studies raises the concern that clinically available GLP-1 receptor agonists deserves to be tested as potential treatments of patients with addictive disorders including alcohol addiction.

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