The Role of Orexins/Hypocretins in Alcohol Use and Abuse

  • Leigh C. Walker
  • Andrew J. LawrenceEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 33)


Addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and drug taking despite negative consequences. Alcohol abuse and addiction have major social and economic consequences and cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Currently available therapeutics are inadequate, outlining the need for alternative treatments. Detailed knowledge of the neurocircuitry and brain chemistry responsible for aberrant behavior patterns should enable the development of novel pharmacotherapies to treat addiction. Therefore it is important to expand our knowledge and understanding of the neural pathways and mechanisms involved in alcohol seeking and abuse. The orexin (hypocretin) neuropeptide system is an attractive target, given the recent FDA and PMDA approval of suvorexant for the treatment of insomnia. Orexin is synthesized exclusively in neurons located in the lateral (LH), perifornical (PEF), and dorsal medial (DMH) hypothalamus. These neurons project widely throughout the neuraxis with regulatory roles in a wide range of behavioral and physiological responses, including sleep–wake cycle neuroendocrine regulation, anxiety, feeding behavior, and reward seeking. Here we summarize the literature to date, which have evaluated the interplay between alcohol and the orexin system.


Addiction Alcohol Hypocretin Orexin 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental HealthParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental HealthThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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