Background: The term Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) incorporates different states
of disease related to the recurrent use of alcohol and linked to the relevant impairment, disability
and failure to perform major responsibilities in different realms. Many neurotransmitter
systems are involved in the phases or states of alcoholism from reward mechanisms, associated
to binge intoxication, to stress and anxiety linked to relapse and withdrawal. Some neuropeptides
play a key function in the control of anxiety and stress, and establish a close relationship
with the pathological mechanisms underlying alcohol addiction. Among them, Neuropeptide
Y (NPY), Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)/Urocortins and Neuropeptide S
(NPS) cross-talk, and are responsible for some of the maladaptation processes that the brain
exhibits during the progression of the disease.
Method: In this study, we review the literature mainly focused on the participation of these
neuropeptides in the pathophysiology of AUD, as well as on the use of antagonists designed
to investigate signaling mechanisms initiated after ligand binding and their connection to biochemical
adaptation events coupled to alcohol addiction. The possibility that these systems
may serve as therapeutic objectives to mitigate or eliminate the harm that drinking ethanol
generates, is also discussed.
Conclusion: The peptide systems reviewed here, together with other neurotransmitter systems
and their mutual relationships, are firm candidates to be targeted to treat AUD.