Wednesday March 20, 2019

Early Exposure To Alcohol Can Increases The Risk For Anxiety Later in Life

A study showed adolescent binge drinking, even if discontinued, increases the risk for anxiety later in life due to abnormal epigenetic programming. 

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drinking
"Binge drinking early in life modifies the brain and changes connectivity in the brain, especially in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional regulation and anxiety, in ways we don't totally understand yet," said Subhash Pandey, Professor at the University of Illinois in the US. Pixabay

Are you a heavy drinker? Take note. Alcohol exposure early has lasting effects on the brain and increases the risk of anxiety in adulthood, say researchers, including one of an Indian-origin.

A study showed adolescent binge drinking, even if discontinued, increases the risk for anxiety later in life due to abnormal epigenetic programming.

“Epigenetics” refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves.

“Binge drinking early in life modifies the brain and changes connectivity in the brain, especially in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional regulation and anxiety, in ways we don’t totally understand yet,” said Subhash Pandey, Professor at the University of Illinois in the US.

DNA
“Epigenetics” refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. 
Pixabay

“But what we do know is that epigenetic changes are lasting and increase susceptibility to psychological issues later in life, even if drinking that took place early in life is stopped,” said Pandey.

For the study, adolescent rats that underwent an assessment for anxiety were exposed to ethyl alcohol for two days on and two days off or to the same protocol using saline for 14 days.

The rats were allowed to mature to adulthood without any further exposure to alcohol.

brain
“Epigenetics” refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. 
Pixabay

The rats exhibited anxious behaviour later in life, even after the binge drinking regimen stopped in late adolescence. They also had lower levels of a protein called Arc in the amygdala.

Arc is important for the normal development of synaptic connections in the brain.

The findings were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

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Rats with less Arc also had about 40 per cent fewer neuronal connections in the amygdala compared with rats that weren’t exposed to alcohol.

The decrease in Arc levels is caused by epigenetic changes that alter the expression of Arc, and an enhancer RNA, which modifies the expression of Arc. These changes are caused by adolescent alcohol exposure, said Pandey. (IANS)

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Early Onset of Drinking May Lead to Alcohol Dependence, Says Study

To prevent or delay early onset of drinking, more should be known about the modifiable circumstances that enable these behaviours

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drinking
In the experiments, rats were trained to drink alcohol in a way that mimics human binge-drinking behaviour. Pixabay

Early onset of drinking and intoxication may lead to heavy drinking and alcohol dependence among people, warn researchers from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in the US.

Researchers concluded this in a study on the correlation between early age (less than 15 years) and contexts of first intoxication such as one’s own home, friends’ homes or outdoor settings, and the problems that arise in these contexts.

For their research, the team studied 405 adolescent (aged 15-18 years) drinkers.

According to the findings, published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, about one-third of adolescent drinkers experienced their first intoxication by the age of 15, about one-third experienced it after 15, and about one-third had consumed alcohol but never to the stage of intoxication.

A new drug can reduce Alcohol addiction in teenagers
Early age drinking linked to alcohol dependence: Study. Pixabay

In addition, drinkers reported drinking most frequently at homes, followed by outdoor settings, and then in restaurants, bars or nightclubs.

The early age of first intoxication was found to be strongly linked to drinking in outdoor settings, but not to drinking at home.

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The results of the study emphasise importance of contexts in early alcohol initiation and the resulting problems to inform development of preventive interventions specific to contexts, said Lipperman-Kreda, a researcher from the varsity.

To prevent or delay early onset of drinking, more should be known about the modifiable circumstances that enable these behaviours, the study suggested. (IANS)