Alcohol consumption increases liver hormone and reduces alcohol cravings
A recent study has shown that alcohol consumption increases a certain level of liver hormone and reduces the craving for alcohol. This hormone also controls the craving for sweets.
Sugar and alcohol consumption make you thirsty
Most people have probably already experienced that they feel very thirsty after drinking alcoholic beverages. Sugar consumption also makes you thirsty. According to a new study, the hormone FGF21 produced in the liver is apparently responsible in both cases. As scientists discovered years ago, this hormone also slows down our preference for sweets and alcohol.
Hormone controls the craving for sweets and alcohol
As the Medical University (Med Uni) Graz reports in a recent release, the hormone FGF21, which is released by the liver, plays an essential role in energy metabolism and stimulates energy utilization in the liver and the energy supply to the brain during an extended period of fasting. It also controls the craving for sweets and alcohol.
As part of a project at the CBmed Center for Biomarker Research in Medicine, researchers at the Med Uni Graz, together with international colleagues, have investigated how the FGF21 level in the blood behaves when consuming alcohol and whether an increased release of this hormone is an explanation for the observed reduced desire Alcohol could be in laboratory models with high FG21 blood levels.
The results of the research work were recently published in the journal "Cell Metabolism".
FGF21 with central importance for the entire energy balance
The liver is a central metabolic organ that adapts the body to metabolic needs during periods of eating and fasting and regulates the utilization of the nutrients made available.
"The regulation of such adjustments takes place, among other things, via hormonal signaling pathways," explains Associate Professor Pdin Dr.in Vanessa Stadlbauer-Köllner from the clinical department for gastroenterology and hepatology at the Medical University of Graz and head of the "Transplantation Research" working group.
Together with her colleague Assoz.-Prof. PD Dr. Martin Wagner, head of the "Translational Nuclear Receptor Research in Liver Metabolism" working group at the Med Uni Graz and colleagues from CBmed and the University of Texas South Western Medical Center, Dallas, USA, examined whether alcohol controls the liver hormone FGF21.
FGF21 is a hormone produced and released in the liver that is of central importance for the sugar and fat metabolism and thus the entire energy balance.
"The signaling molecule FGF21 is produced in the liver during extended periods of fasting and during this time stimulates, among other things, energy utilization in the liver and energy supply to the brain," explain the two experts.
The hormone FGF21 is also activated by sugar and causes the brain to reduce the craving for sweets.
The mouse model shows that an increased FGF21 concentration in the blood also reduces the craving for alcohol. To date, however, it has not been known whether alcohol can fundamentally increase the FGF21 distribution.
Alcohol consumption causes FGF21 concentration in the blood to rise sharply
As part of a clinical study, the scientists at the Med Uni Graz investigated how the intake of alcohol affects the FGF21 concentration in the blood.
It was found that just two hours after the consumption of 40% alcohol in the amount of two ml per kilogram of body weight, the FGF21 level had risen to 10 times the initial value.
The control group, which received orange juice during the same period, showed no changes.
"Our contribution in connection with the overall work showed that acute alcohol consumption in humans causes the FGF21 level in the blood to rise rapidly, thereby increasing the desire for water and FGF21 is generally an important hormonal stimulus for the body's water balance," the scientists describe one Part of the research result.
Both Wagner and Stadlbauer-Köllner suspect that, similar to the mouse model, an increased FGF21 level ensures that the desire for alcohol is suppressed.
"However, it is still unclear why this mechanism does not work or does not work sufficiently in people with alcohol," says the researchers.
They suspect that mutations in the receptors for FGF21 in the brain could be responsible for this primary resistance. This is also confirmed by the results of a large mutation study that was carried out recently.
Understand the metabolic effects of alcohol
"Secondary FGF21 resistance", similar to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, could also play a role in chronically elevated FGF21 levels, the experts believe.
"We are only at the beginning of understanding the potential implications of these basic studies for FGF21 for humans in different facets. As doctors and scientists, we see ourselves as a translational link to test these findings in relevant human situations, ”the researchers explain.
"We are all the more pleased that we were now able to tax an important contribution on the human relevance of FGF21." The two now want to investigate the clinical aspects of alcohol consumption in more detail.
"We only know that acute alcohol consumption stimulates FGF21, but we do not know what happens for example with chronic alcohol consumption or whether a certain minimum amount of alcohol is required to stimulate FGF21. These are essential questions in order to understand the possibly far-reaching connections between the liver hormone FGF21 and the metabolic effects of alcohol, ”the researchers emphasize together. (ad)