Nematodes feel a craving - Using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model to study alcohol addiction

Geng Zhu, Fen Zhang, Wei Li

School of Life Sciences Institute, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China

Alcohol is the most frequently-used addictive drug. However, the mechanism by which its consumption leads to addiction remains largely elusive. Given the conservation of behavioral reactions to alcohol, Caenorhabitis elegans (C. elegans) has been effectively used as a model system to investigate the relevant molecular targets and pathways mediating these responses. In this article, we review the roles of BK channels (also called SLO-1), the lipid microenvironment, receptors, the synaptic machinery, and neurotransmitters in both the acute and chronic effects of alcohol. We provide an overview of the genes and mechanisms involved in alcoholism-related behaviors in C. elegans.

Keywords: C. elegans; substance abuse; ethanol; BK channel


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