What is the molecular mechanism behind alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction is a heavy burden on the body and mind of the person concerned. But what actually leads to an addiction to alcoholic beverages? Researchers have now succeeded in uncovering the molecular mechanism of alcohol addiction.
In their current study, the scientists at the Swedish Linköping University discovered what a molecular mechanism is behind alcohol dependence. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Science".
Is alcohol addiction related to a protein?
What causes a person to become addicted to alcohol? A recent investigation should now provide answers to this question. According to the scientists, lower levels of a protein in the brain could be the reason why those affected can no longer live without alcohol.
Motivation control of addicts doesn't work
A key characteristic of addictions is that those affected know that the addiction harms them and may even lead to death, but they still do not change their behavior, explains study author Markus Heilig from Linköping University in Sweden. The so-called motivation control does not seem to work properly for the addicts.
Examination of mice provided insightful insights
For their study, the scientists used a mouse model to measure the expression of hundreds of genes in five areas of the brain. The examination on the animals provided very insightful insights into the human brain and the addiction patterns that occur, the doctors say. The role of reduced GAT-3 levels in rats was also investigated. These rats initially preferred sweetened water over alcohol. After the GAT-3 reduction, they were again given the choice between alcohol and sugar. The results of the study show that 15 percent of the adult rats preferred alcohol over a high-quality reward.
Alcohol addicts had low protein levels
The reduction in the expression of the transporter had a remarkable effect on the behavior of the rats. In animals that had preferred the sweet taste to alcohol, the preference had reversed and they had started to choose alcohol, says study author Eric Augier from Linköping University. The team then also examined the GAT-3 levels in the brain tissue of deceased people, for whom alcohol dependency had previously been documented. The experts found that these people also had lower protein levels compared to people from a control group.
Do the results improve treatment for alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem that affects many people today. The researchers hope that the results of the study will hopefully help improve the treatment of alcohol addiction in the future. (as)