The Italian research that for the first time has identified the biological processes controlling the mechanisms of alcohol dependence . Now published by Addiction Biology , the study was made ​​by a team of researchers at the ‘ University of Cagliari led by Eli Waters, and may pave the way for development of new therapies to combat alcoholism.

To find out what were the biological mechanisms that control the addiction, the researchers of the Sardinia studied a group of mice. Analyzing the rodents, there were two key steps: l ‘ ethanol stimulates the nerve cells of a specific area of the brain, the ‘ ventral segmental area (VTA), which produce the neurotransmitter dopamine , which plays a primary role in the control of functions within reflectivity, satisfaction and motivation. The alteration of the cells that produce dopamine is responsible for depression, schizophrenia, drug addiction, and, as has just been discovered by scientists at the University of Cagliari, even alcoholism.


When alcohol reaches the cells ventral segmental area is transformed into another molecule, l ‘ aldehyde , which reacts with the dopamine which they issue, generating solenoidal. The solenoidal excites cells in the area and is the biological basis of alcoholism. “In practice – says Waters – the substance excites the ventral segmental area cells by stimulating the production of dopamine and potentially creating addiction.” This is because the dopamine gives a sense of satisfaction, so you create a positive reinforcement of the stimulus (alcohol intake) leading to his release.

No one had ever identified before these biological processes. Now, thanks to the work of researchers at the ‘ University of Cagliari , the road to a therapy effective addiction to alcohol may not be far off: just make sure to prevent the formation of solenoidal. To achieve this, he said Waters, the avenues are two, “or inhibit the enzyme involved in the conversion of ethanol to aldehyde or eliminate aldehyde administering more reactive substances dopamine and inducing the molecule to generate biologically inactive, and not then produce the solenoidal “.