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Kindling as a Model for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndromes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 January 2018

James C. Ballenger
Affiliation:
Section on Psychobiology, Biological Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20014
Robert M. Post*
Affiliation:
Section on Psychobiology, Biological Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20014
*
Reprints requests should be sent to: Robert M. Post, M.D., National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Room 3S239, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland 20014.

Summary

Periodic brain stimulation, particularly in the limbic system, at stimulus intensities initially too low to produce any behavioural or EEG effects, progressively produces EEG changes, motor automatisms, and eventually convulsions, an effect called kindling. Data are presented and reviewed that suggest that the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms progressively increases over years of alcohol abuse in a stepwise fashion similar to the kindling process. The model is presented that the limbic system hyperirritability which accompanies each alcohol withdrawal serves over time to kindle increasingly widespread subcortical structures. These long-term changes in neuronal excitability might relate to the progression of alcohol withdrawal symptoms from tremor to seizures and delirium tremens, as well as the alcoholic personality changes between episodes of withdrawal.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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