Tuesday January 28, 2020

Here’s how Casual Drinking Turns into Heavy Drinking

You never know when your casual drinking can turn into heavy drinking

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Heavy Drinking
Certain neurons are responsible to turn your casual drinking into heavy drinking. Lifetime Stock

Don’t just blame it on his friends if your hubby has suddenly started drinking more in recent times as scientists have now discovered neurons in a specific brain region that might be responsible for triggering sudden uptick in alcohol consumption.

Researchers have long known that a region of the brain called the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) plays a role in behaviours related to alcohol use and consumption in general.

Now, a team at University of North Carolina’s school of medicine have found a specific neural circuit that, when altered, caused animal models to drink less alcohol.

“The fact that these neurons promote reward-like behaviour, that extremely low levels of alcohol consumption activate these cells, and that activation of these neurons drive alcohol drinking in animals without extensive prior drinking experience suggests that they may be important for early alcohol use and reward,” elaborated senior study author Zoe McElligott, assistant professor of psychiatry and pharmacology.

“By understanding the function of this circuit, we can better predict what happens in the brains of people who transition from casual alcohol use to subsequent abuse of alcohol, and the development of alcohol use disorders”.

Drinking Alcohol
A few neurons are responsible for triggering alcohol consumption. Lifetime Stock

McElligott investigated if a population of neurons that express a specific neuropeptide (neurotensin or NTS) contributes to reward-like behaviours and alcohol drinking.

She was especially interested in these neurons in the context of inexperienced alcohol use, such as when a person first begins to drink alcohol.

Also, NTS neurons are a subpopulation of other neurons in this brain region that have been implicated in anxiety and fear.

Using modern genetic and viral technologies in male mice, McElligott and colleagues found that selectively lesioning or ablating the NTS neurons in the specific brain region, while maintaining other types of CeA neurons, would cause the animals to drink less alcohol.

This manipulation did not either alter anxiety-like behaviour or affect the consumption of other palatable liquids such as sucrose, saccharin and bitter quinine solutions.

“We found that these NTS neurons in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) send a strong projection to the hindbrain, where they inhibit the parabrachial nucleus, near the brainstem,” McElligott explained.

Using optogenetics — a technique where light activates these neurons — the researchers stimulated the terminal projections of the CeA-NTS neurons in the parabrachial and found that this stimulation inhibited the neurons in the parabrachial.

“Furthermore, when we stimulated this projection, animals would drink more alcohol as compared to when they had an opportunity to drink alcohol without laser stimulation,” McElligott said in a paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience.The team hopes to explore how alcohol experience may change these neurons over time.

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Would these cells respond differently after animals have been drinking high quantities of alcohol over time?

“We also want to discover which populations of neurons in the parabrachial are receiving inputs from these neurons. Fully understanding this circuit could be the key to developing therapeutics to help people with alcohol use disorders,” said the researchers. (IANS)

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Children of Mothers With Diabetes Are Likely To Suffer From Heart Diseases, Says Study

The researchers also found higher rates for specific types of CVD children of mothers with diabetes

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Diabetes
Diabetes was categorised as pregestational (before pregnancy) or gestational (during pregnancy) and women with diabetic complications were identified in the Study. Pixabay

Children of mothers with diabetes have increased rates of early onset cardiovascular disease or CVD (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) from childhood up to the age of 40, the researchers have warned.

The increased rates were more pronounced among children of mothers with a history of CVD or diabetic complications, said the study published in the journal The BMJ.

“Our study provides evidence that children of mothers with diabetes, especially those with a history of CVD or with diabetic complications, had increased rates of early onset CVD throughout the early decades of life,” said study researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark.

If this association is shown to be causal, preventing, screening, and treating diabetes in women of childbearing age could be important not only for improving the health of the women but also for reducing long term risks of CVD in their offspring, the researchers added

The number of women diagnosed with diabetes before or during pregnancy has increased globally, and children of these women are more likely to have risk factors for future CVD, such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. It is unclear, however, whether or to what extent exposure to diabetes in the womb increases the risk of developing CVD in offspring over a lifetime.

So an international team of researchers set out to evaluate associations between diabetes diagnosed before or during pregnancy and early onset CVD in children during their first four decades of life. They base their findings on national registry data for over 2.4 million children born without congenital heart disease in Denmark from 1977 to 2016.

Diabetes was categorised as pregestational (before pregnancy) or gestational (during pregnancy) and women with diabetic complications were identified.

Diabetes
Children of mothers with diabetes have increased rates of early onset cardiovascular disease or CVD (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) from childhood up to the age of 40, the researchers have warned. Pixabay

Other potentially influential factors, such as mother’s age, education, lifestyle and medical history were also taken into account. During up to 40 years of follow-up, children of mothers with diabetes had a 29 per cent increased overall rate of early onset CVD compared with children of mothers who did not have diabetes (cumulative risks: 17.8 per cent vs 13.1 per cent ).

The researchers also found higher rates for specific types of CVD children of mothers with diabetes, particularly heart failure (45 per cent), hypertensive disease (78 per cent), deep vein thrombosis (82 per cent), and pulmonary embolism (91 per cent).

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Increased rates were seen in each age group in childhood (before 20 years of age) and early adulthood (from 20 to 40 years of age), regardless of the type of diabetes they were exposed to (pregestational or gestational) and rates were similar for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the study said. (IANS)