Interactions of Ethanol with Ion Channels: Possible Implications for Mechanisms of Intoxication and Dependence

  • Wojciech Kostowski
Part of the Endocrinology and Metabolism book series (EAM, volume 6)


There is much evidence that ethyl alcohol (ethanol, ET-OH), like other anesthetics, affects the central nervous system (CNS) by a direct nonspecific physical action on the excitable membranes. Thus ET-OH molecules may insert into the lipid layer, thereby affecting the mobility of the membrane lipids and the hydrophobic portion of the membrane proteins. It is possible that ET-OH may also act directly upon nerve membrane proteins, ie, ion channels and ion pumps.1–3 Thus several mechanisms of ET-OH action have been suggested: changes in membrane fluidity, direct action upon the receptor-ionophore complex, and action upon the proteins that regulate the function of this complex. Although no specific ET-OH effects on ion channels has been described to date, several interesting effects of ET-OH on ion currents and ion channels have been reported. The y-aminobutyric acid- (GABA) activated Cl~ channel, glutamate receptor-activated ion currents, voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels, and sodium-, potassium-dependent, magnesium-activated adenosine triphosphatase (Na+K+-ATPase or NKA) are among those affected. It has been suggested by many investigators that the action of ET-OH on neuronal membranes may contribute substantially to ET-OH intoxication, tolerance, and dependence. These problems will be discussed below.


Chronic Ethanol Channel Inhibitor Audiogenic Seizure Reduce Seizure Threshold Synaptosomal Calcium 
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  • Wojciech Kostowski

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