Sunday August 18, 2019

Brain’s immune system affects the drinking behavior at night, suggests study

The team switched off the impulse to drink alcohol by giving mice a drug that blocks a specific response from the immune system in the brain

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risk of cancer
Drinking behavior can alter risk of developing cancer. Pixabay
  • Brain’s immunity has been found to affect one’s drinking behavior at night
  • The team switched off the impulse to drink alcohol by giving mice a drug
  • A significant reduction in the mice’s alcohol drinking behavior was reported 

New Delhi, September 17, 2017: Love to drown yourself in a peg of whiskey each evening? It may be due to impulsiveness of the brain’s immune system, according to a study.

The findings showed a link between the brain’s immunity and the motivation to drink alcohol at night.

This may be because our body’s circadian rhythms affect the “reward” signals we receive in the brain from drug-related behaviour and the peak time for this reward typically occurs during the evening or dark phase, the researchers said.

“Alcohol is the world’s most commonly consumed drug and there is a greater need than ever to understand the biological mechanisms that drive our need to drink alcohol,” said lead author Jon Jacobsen, PhD student at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

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“We wanted to test what the role of the brain’s immune system might have on that reward and whether or not we could switch it off,” Jacobsen added.

In the study, published in the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity, the team switched off the impulse to drink alcohol by giving mice a drug that blocks a specific response from the immune system in the brain.

The researchers administered the drug (+)-Naltrexone, which is known to block the immune receptor Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in mice.

The results showed a significant reduction in alcohol drinking behaviour by mice that had been given (+)-Naltrexone, specifically at night when the reward for drug-related behaviour is usually at its greatest.

“We concluded that blocking a specific part of the brain’s immune system did in fact substantially decrease the motivation of mice to drink alcohol in the evening,” Jacobsen said.

These findings point to the need for further research to understand the implications for drinking behaviour in humans, the researchers noted. (IANS)

Next Story

Quit Alcohol For Improved Mental Health, Say Researchers

In fact, anyone can benefit from sobriety because the potential benefits of alcohol do not outweigh its known harm and risks

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Bottles of Alcohol. Wikimedia Commons

By Bharat Upadhyay

If you thought moderate drinking would not do you much harm, think again. Researchers have found that quitting alcohol completely may improve mental well-being, especially for women.

Moderate drinking was defined as 14 drinks or less per week for men and 7 drinks or less per week for women.

The study found that men and women who were lifetime abstainers had the highest level of mental well-being at the start of the study.

For women who were moderate drinkers and quit drinking, quitting was linked to a favourable change in mental well-being, showed results published in the journal CMAJ.

While the study was conducted on Chinese and American populations, experts have said that the results could apply to Indian populations too.

Society, Drinking, Alcohol
An estimated 53 million adults — experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking in the last 12 months. Pixabay

According to Naveen Kumar, Consultant Gastroenterology, Narayana Superspecialty Hospital in Gurugram, quitting alcohol even for a month could help in repairing the gut and metabolic system and alleviate its symptoms. It will help in boosting long-term health and can provide a healthier quality of life.

“Abstinence from alcohol is mandatory for a healthier brain and liver, a stronger immune system and heart, especially in women as alcohol effects are more harmfully serious on women, considering their metabolism and estrogen levels,” Kumar told IANS.

In fact, anyone can benefit from sobriety because the potential benefits of alcohol do not outweigh its known harm and risks.

Also Read: A Feeling of Safety Most Important for Hospitalized Kids

“Alcohol works in a way that may depress our central nervous system and may fluctuate our mood as it lowers the levels of serotonin in our brain. Regular consumption changes the chemistry of the brain and results in the depletion of our mental health,” Mrinmay Kumar Das, Senior Consultant at Jaypee Hospital in Noida told IANS.

“To increase the brain volume and to deal with all sorts of situations, abstinence is required,” he added. (IANS)