Galanin and alcohol dependence: Neurobehavioral research

M. J. Lewis, P. Rada, D. F. Johnson, N. M. Avena, S. F. Leibowitz, B. G. Hoebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


It is known that microinjection of galanin (GAL) intraventricularly or in specific hypothalamic sites increases food consumption and, conversely, the intake of food increases the expression of GAL in hypothalamic sites. Ethanol (EtOH) is a calorie-rich food as well as a drug of abuse. The research reviewed here shows that GAL may play a similar role in alcohol intake. First, experiments in which GAL was microinjected into the third ventricle or the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) showed increases in EtOH consumption. The increase in EtOH consumption occurred during both the light and dark cycles after GAL injection in the third ventricle in rats with limited EtOH access. Injection of GAL did not increase food intake in rats that had been chronically drinking alcohol. GAL receptor blockade reversed these increases. Microinjection of GAL directly into the PVN also increased ad libitum EtOH intake and blockade of these receptors in the PVN inhibited ad libitum EtOH consumption. Secondly, rats administered EtOH showed increases in GAL in the PVN and related hypothalamic sites. EtOH injection and voluntary intake, both ad libitum and limited access, increased GAL gene and peptide expression in the PVN consistently across administration procedures. These experiments show that GAL injection increases alcohol intake and that the intake of alcohol increases GAL, suggesting a positive feedback relationship between alcohol intake and specific hypothalamic GAL systems. Such a relationship may contribute to the motivation to consume excessive alcoholic beverages and the development of alcohol dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-321
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


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