Alcohol intoxication: ion channels and genetics. Academic Article Review uri icon


  • Acute in vitro exposure to ethanol and other intoxicant-anesthetics activates gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-stimulated chloride channels and inhibits voltage-dependent calcium and sodium channels of isolated brain membranes. The question of whether these neurochemical actions are responsible for intoxication in vivo has been addressed using animal populations displaying genetic differences in sensitivity to alcohol and benzodiazepine intoxication. These genetic approaches include inbred strains, selected lines, recombinant inbred strains, and heterogeneous stocks. Genetic differences in ion channel function provide strong evidence for a role of the GABA-stimulated chloride channel in ethanol and benzodiazepine intoxication; the role of calcium and sodium channels is less clear.

publication date

  • April 1989