Background: The impact of abusive alcohol consumption on human health is remarkable. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 3.3 million people die annually because of harmful alcohol consumption (the figure represents around 5.9% of global deaths). Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a chronic disease where individuals exhibit compulsive alcohol drinking and present negative emotional states when they do not drink. In the most severe manifestations of AUD, the individuals lose control over intake despite a decided will to stop drinking. Given the multiple faces and the specific forms of this disease, the term AUD often appears in the plural (AUDs). Since only a few approved pharmacological treatments are available to treat AUD and they do not apply to all individuals or AUD forms, the search for compounds that may help to eliminate the burden of the disease and complement other therapeutical approaches is necessary.
Methods: This work reviews recent research focused on the involvement of epigenetic mechanisms in the pathophysiology of AUD. Excessive drinking leads to chronic and compulsive consumption that eventually damages the organism. The central nervous system is a key target and is the focus of this study. The search for the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms behind the intricated dysregulation induced by ethanol will aid researchers in establishing new therapy approaches.
Conclusion: Recent findings in the field of epigenetics are essential and offer new windows for observation and research. The study of small molecules that inhibit key epienzymes involved in nucleosome architecture dynamics is necessary in order to prove their action and specificity in the laboratory and to test their effectivity and safety in clinical trials with selected patients bearing defined alterations caused by ethanol.