Ethanol Interactions with Receptors

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Ethanol, the alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, has a wide range of effects. Unlike many drugs, ethanol does not have a specific area of the brain in which it exerts its effects. For this reason, ethanol has a large diversity of symptoms and varying effects among individuals. In general, it binds with and alters the function of voltage gated ion channels. Typically ethanol inhibits neurons directly or stimulates the release of inhibitor neurotransmitters. Ethanol may have undesirable side effects such as deficits in cognitive ability and long-term brain damaged if used frequently.
Ethanol Interactions with Receptors
Ethanol interacts with the several neurochemical systems that play a role in the effects and reinforcing factors during consumption. It is a depressant that interacts with ion-gated channels in a way that generally decreases brain activity. These interactions either facilitate the channel, opening mostly Cl-, but also facilitate 5-HT3 receptors that are NA+ and K+ channels, or the interactions inhibit the opening of channels usually NA+, CA+, and K+. Some of the receptors that it affects include, GABAA, GABAB, NMDA, serotonin, and Dopamine. The GABAergic systems play a major role in the reinforcing factors of alcohol consumption. Ethanol tends to enhance GABA activity, most likely by increasing GABA release from the neurons. However, the mechanism is not the same for every GABA receptor, and the exact mechanism may be difficult to determine

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