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1.  WITHDRAWAL FROM FREE-CHOICE ETHANOL CONSUMPTION RESULTS IN INCREASED PACKING DENSITY OF GLUTAMINE SYNTHETASE-IMMUNOREACTIVE ASTROCYTES IN THE PRELIMBIC CORTEX OF ALCOHOL-PREFERRING RATS 
Excess activation of glutamatergic neurotransmission in the cerebral cortex following ethanol withdrawal is considered to contribute to significant behavioural disturbances, and to alcohol craving. Astrocytes may play a role in these manifestations because astrocytes are essential in the regulation of released glutamate and its conversion to glutamine through the enzyme glutamine synthetase (GS). However, it is unclear if withdrawal from free-choice ethanol drinking causes changes in the numbers of astrocytes expressing GS or the cytoskeletal protein of astrocytes glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Alcohol-preferring (P) rats exposed to free-choice ethanol drinking were either maintained without forced interruption of ethanol drinking, subjected to a 3-day withdrawal period at the end of 2 months, or subjected to three 3-day withdrawal periods along 6 months. At 2 months, P rats were also compared with alcohol-naïve alcohol non-preferring rats (NP) rats. Packing density of GS and GFAP-immunoreactive (IR) astrocytes was measured in sections from the prelimbic cortex (PLC) using the optical disector probe. An alcohol deprivation effect was observed in P rats with withdrawals during a 6-month ethanol drinking period. Ethanol withdrawal significantly increased the packing density of GS- and GFAP-IR astrocytes in the PLC of P rats as compared with P rats with continuous access to ethanol. In addition, there was a positive correlation between the pre-withdrawal ethanol consumption and the packing density of GS-IR astrocytes. The present results suggest the involvement of astrocytes in the regulation of the glutamatergic activation associated with withdrawal from free-choice ethanol consumption and point to differential adaptations of GS and GFAP to prolonged alcohol drinking in the PLC of P rats.
doi:10.1093/alcalc/agl006
PMCID: PMC2922913  PMID: 16484281
2.  Impaired Control and Undergraduate Problem Drinking 
Aims
Impaired control, one of the hallmarks of addiction, is also one of the earliest dependence symptoms to develop. Thus impaired control is particularly relevant to undergraduates and other young adults with relatively brief drinking histories. The main goal of this study was to determine whether impaired control predicted heavy episodic drinking and alcohol-related problems cross-sectionally in an undergraduate sample after controlling for gender, family history of alcohol and drug problems and several other established predictor variables from the undergraduate alcohol literature.
Methods
A sample of first-year undergraduates (N = 312) completed Part 2 of the Impaired Control Scale (ICS; Heather et al., 1993) and other measures related to alcohol use as part of a larger study on problem drinking in undergraduates.
Results
Scores on Part 2 of the ICS predicted heavy episodic drinking and alcohol-related problems cross-sectionally even after controlling for all other predictor variables. Notably, impaired control was a stronger predictor of alcohol-related problems than overall weekly alcohol consumption. Part 2 of the ICS was found to be a reliable and valid measure for use with undergraduates.
Conclusions
These findings support the notion that impaired control is one of the earliest dependence symptoms to develop. The ICS is an effective tool for identifying young adults at risk for problem drinking.
doi:10.1093/alcalc/agl095
PMCID: PMC2430104  PMID: 17142826
Impaired control; undergraduate drinking; alcohol-related problems; heavy episodic drinking
3.  ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF HEPATITIS C 
Aims
Little is known about how non-problematic drinkers respond to advice to reduce alcohol consumption as part of disease management. In this article, we examine patient reports of drinking behaviour after being diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C, a condition for which alcohol consumption is contraindicated.
Methods
In this qualitative study, we analyzed transcripts of semi-structured interviews with hepatitis C virus+ (HCV+) patients whose level of alcohol consumption would not be considered problematic in the absence of their diagnosis.
Results
Most respondents reported some instances of adherence, but only half adhered to the advice to limit drinking consistently over time. Respondents who did not stop drinking often modified their behaviour by changing the type of alcohol consumed or limiting drinking to particular occasions.
Conclusion
Most informants understood the risks of drinking after HCV infection, particularly in the presence of symptoms, with the onset of complications, or when undergoing treatment. But some believed they could monitor their bodies for evidence of disease progression or that drinking was acceptable during early, asymptomatic stages of infection. Our results also identified situations in which patients need support in adhering to intentions not to drink, including social pressures, stressful situations, or environmental triggers.
doi:10.1093/alcalc/agl055
PMCID: PMC1939937  PMID: 16855001

Results 1-3 (3)