Alcohol use produces wide-ranging and diverse effects on the central nervous system. It influences intracellular signaling mechanisms, leading to changes in gene expression, chromatin remodeling, and translation. As a result of these molecular alterations, alcohol affects the activity of neuronal circuits. Together, these mechanisms produce long-lasting cellular adaptations in the brain that in turn can drive the development and maintenance of alcohol use disorder (AUD). We provide an update on alcohol research, focusing on multiple levels of alcohol-induced adaptations, from intracellular changes to changes in neural circuits. A better understanding of how alcohol affects these diverse and interlinked mechanisms may lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets and to the development of much-needed novel and efficacious treatment options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1015
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • alcohol
  • central nervous system
  • epigenetics
  • intracellular signaling
  • neural circuits


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