Review ARTICLE

Front. Behav. Neurosci., 22 November 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2012.00078

The role of orexins/hypocretins in alcohol use and abuse: an appetitive-reward relationship

Andrezza K. Kim1,2†, Robyn M. Brown1,3† and Andrew J. Lawrence1,3*
  • 1Addiction Neuroscience Laboratory, Behavioural Neuroscience Division, Florey Neuroscience Institutes, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia
  • 2Departamento de Psicobiologia, Escola Paulista de Medicina, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 3Centre for Neuroscience, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia

Orexins (hypocretins) are neuropeptides synthesized in neurons located in the lateral (LH), perifornical, and dorsomedial (DMH) hypothalamus. These neurons innervate many regions in the brain and modulate multiple other neurotransmitter systems. As a result of these extensive projections and interactions orexins are involved in numerous functions, such as feeding behavior, neuroendocrine regulation, the sleep-wake cycle, and reward-seeking. This review will summarize the literature to date which has evaluated a role of orexins in the behavioral effects of alcohol, with a focus on understanding the importance of this peptide and its potential as a clinical therapeutic target for alcohol use disorders.

Keywords: orexin, hypocretin, alcohol, relapse, reward-seeking behavior, drug-seeking, ethanol

Citation: Kim AK, Brown RM and Lawrence AJ (2012) The role of orexins/hypocretins in alcohol use and abuse: an appetitive-reward relationship. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 6:78. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2012.00078

Received: 09 August 2012; Accepted: 26 October 2012;
Published online: 22 November 2012.

Edited by:

Benjamin Boutrel, Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland

Reviewed by:

Christopher V. Dayas, University of Newcastle, Australia
Sarah Leibowitz, The Rockefeller University, USA

Copyright © 2012 Kim, Brown and Lawrence. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Andrew J. Lawrence, Addiction Neuroscience Laboratory, Behavioural Neuroscience Division, Florey Neuroscience Institutes, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia. e-mail: andrew.lawrence@florey.edu.au

These authors equally contributed to this work.

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