Rocchitta, Gaia Giovanna Maria and Serra, Pier Andrea (2013) Direct monitoring of ethanol in the brain. OA Alcohol , Vol. 1 (2), [e]15. ISSN 2053-0285. Article.
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In the past few decades, ethanol has assumed the role of the most widespread psychotropic agent in Western society because of its availability to the youth and adults and also because it is generally considered legal in many societies. It is known that the alcohol can have significant relapses on the central nervous system; hence, there is a need for monitoring the toxicokinetics and the effects of ethanol on the brain with the most appropriate techniques. Among the techniques that aim to measure ethanol concentration in the brain, microdialysis has been the most widely used, but because of its invasiveness, associated with low temporal resolution, and the necessity of using connecting tubes to carry out the experiments, it is not particularly suitable for clinical trials. Recently, electrochemical biosensors, also minimally invasive, have been developed, which offer the possibility of monitoring the real-time variations of ethanol concentrations in the brain of animal models due to the very small dimensions of the transducer electrode. Recently, non-invasive methods have been used for the direct monitoring of alcohol in the brain, which use spectroscopic techniques such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging or positron emission tomography, which are principally used to monitor ethanol metabolites. The aim of this review is to discuss all the techniques used to monitor brain ethanol and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.
Microdialysis and biosensors are primarily used in preclinical studies; both are very reliable techniques, but for invasiveness, they can only be used in animal models. Alternatively, spectroscopic techniques are suitable for both preclinical and clinical studies, and are not exclusive for animal models.
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