The role of corticotropin-releasing factor in the anxiogenic effects of ethanol withdrawal

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1994 Oct 31;739:176-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1994.tb19819.x.


In summary, endogenous CRF has been demonstrated to play an important role in the endocrine but also autonomic and behavioral responses to a stressor and to mediate some of the signs and symptoms observed in human affective and anxiety disorders. These findings led to the hypothesis that the anxiety that characterizes drug withdrawal, such as ethanol withdrawal in humans, may be related in part to the action of CRF-producing neurons in the CNS. Indeed, rats made dependent on an ethanol liquid diet showed significant signs of enhanced stress responsiveness that was blocked by intracerebral administration of a CRF antagonist. At this time little is known about the specific site of action for endogenous CRF. However, recent studies using local administration of CRF antagonist and in vivo CRF microdialysis suggest that the central nucleus of the amygdala may be an important site for the increases in CRF activity associated with the anxiogenic effects of ethanol withdrawal. Although preliminary, these results propound that ethanol dependence may involve a prolonged dysregulation of the CRF system in the basal forebrain that may contribute to the increased motivational effect of ethanol withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / physiopathology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Animals
  • Anxiety*
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome


  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone