The Corticotropin Releasing Factor System and Alcohol Consumption

Andrey E. Ryabinin, William J. Giardino

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Excessive alcohol consumption leading to dependence is accompanied by adaptive changes in neurocircuits regulating reward, mood, and stress response. The corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) system is at the helm of these neurocircuits, and is a major contributor to regulation of alcohol use and dependence. Early studies focused on the CRF as a potential mediator of dependence. Recent studies recognize that CRF is not the only player in this process. Ligands of CRF receptors include endogenous peptides urocortins (Ucn1, Ucn2, and Ucn3). Midbrain Ucn1-expressing neurons are selectively activated during alcohol drinking. CRF, acting on CRF1 receptors, regulates alcohol intake, but can do so not in an ethanol-specific way. Ucn1 capable of acting on both CRF1 and CRF2, and Ucn3 acting on CRF2 receptors can regulate alcohol intake and preference, in a drug-specific manner. Future development of therapeutics to combat alcohol dependence would benefit from understanding intricacies of the CRF system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMolecular Aspects of Alcohol and Nutrition
Subtitle of host publicationA Volume in the Molecular Nutrition Series
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780128010037
ISBN (Print)9780128007730
StatePublished - 2016


  • Alcohol dependence
  • Amygdala
  • Corticotropin releasing factor
  • Edinger-Westphal nucleus
  • Hypothalamus
  • Urocortin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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