Circadian genes, the stress axis, and alcoholism

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15 Scopus citations


The body's internal system to control the daily rhythm of the body's functions (i.e., the circadian system), the body's stress response, and the body's neurobiology are highly interconnected. Thus, the rhythm of the circadian system impacts alcohol use patterns; at the same time, alcohol drinking also can alter circadian functions. The sensitivity of the circadian system to alcohol may result from alcohol's effects on the expression of several of the clock genes that regulate circadian function. The stress response system involves the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain and the adrenal glands, as well as the hormones they secrete, including corticotrophin-releasing hormone, adrenocorticotrophic hormone, and glucocorticoids. It is controlled by brain-signaling molecules, including endogenous opioids such as β-endorphin. Alcohol consumption influences the activity of this system and vice versa. Finally, interactions exist between the circadian system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and alcohol consumption. Thus, it seems that certain clock genes may control functions of the stress response system and that these interactions are affected by alcohol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-366
Number of pages5
JournalAlcohol research : current reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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