Researchers Finds Mechanism Affecting Alcohol Consumption

Researchers Finds Mechanism Affecting Alcohol Consumption

A Washington State University researcher has found a mechanism that strongly influences whether or not an animal is likely to drink a lot of alcohol.

“It takes them from drinking the equivalent of three to four units of alcohol in one to two hours, down to one to two,” said David Rossi, a WSU assistant professor of neuroscience.

Writing in the latest Journal of Neuroscience, Rossi and colleagues at the Oregon Health and Science University and the U.S. Veterans Administration Portland Health Care System said the mechanism offers a new target for drug therapies that can curb excessive drinking. It may be particularly effective among problem drinkers, half of whom are believed to have a genetically determined tendency to abuse alcohol.

The mechanism is found in the cerebellum, a part of the brain at the back of vertebrate skulls, in small neurons called granule cells. Sitting on the cells are proteins called GABAA receptors (pronounced “GABA A”) that act like traffic cops for electrical signals in the nervous system.

When activated, the GABAA receptor suppresses the firing of neurons, or brain circuits. Benzodiazepines, which enhance GABAA signaling, reduce this excitability, which is why they are used to treat epilepsy.

Alcohol can also enhance GABAA receptor signaling and reduce firing in the brain, which is why it reduces anxiety and social inhibitions. In the cerebellum, it can lead to swaying, stumbling and slurred speech… Read More>>

Source: Medical Xpress

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