Innate Immune Signaling and Alcohol Use Disorders

  • Leon G. ColemanJr.Email author
  • Fulton T. Crews
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 248)


Innate immune signaling is an important feature in the pathology of alcohol use disorders. Alcohol abuse causes persistent innate immune activation in the brain. This is seen in postmortem human alcoholic brain specimens, as well as in primate and rodent models of alcohol consumption. Further, in vitro models of alcohol exposure in neurons and glia also demonstrate innate immune activation. The activation of the innate immune system seems to be important in the development of alcohol use pathology, as anti-immune therapies reduce pathology and ethanol self-administration in rodent models. Further, innate immune activation has been identified in each of the stages of addiction: binge/intoxication, withdrawal/negative affect, and preoccupation/craving. This suggests that innate immune activation may play a role both in the development and maintenance of alcoholic pathology. In this chapter, we discuss the known contributions of innate immune signaling in the pathology of alcohol use disorders, and present potential therapeutic interventions that may be beneficial for alcohol use disorders.


Addiction Alcohol Neuroimmune Treatment 



We thank the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for its support through the Neurobiology of Adolescent Drinking in Adulthood (NADIA) consortium (AA020024, AA020023), the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies (AA011605), the U54 collaborative partnership between NCCU and UNC (AA019767), the K08 award program (AA024829), and the Monkey Alcohol and Tissue Research Resource (MATRR-R24 AA019431).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, Department of PharmacologyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of MedicineChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of PharmacologySchool of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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