According to this, a gene in the endorphin metabolism is altered in a typical fashion more often in women alcoholics than in healthy women. In mice too, endorphins seem to play an important role in the amount of alcohol consumed, particularly among females.
The scientists discuss their results in the current issue of the journal 'Biological Psychiatry' (doi:10.1016/j.biospych.2008.05.008).
Endorphins are known as 'happiness' hormones. They activate what is known as the reward system in the brain and thereby ensure a good mood. This could be the case after jogging (experts talk about 'Runner's High'), after a bar of chocolate or also after a glass of beer or wine. The body endeavours to repeat this high, in the worst case ending in addiction.
Without these 'happiness' hormones you should be going easy on the alcohol, the theory also says. Researchers have tested this hypothesis. For this they examined mice that could not produce any endorphins due to a genetic mutation. The laboratory mice had the choice of quenching their thirst with pure water or an ethanol solution. 'Overall, mice without endorphins drank less alcohol than their relatives with endorphins,' Dr. Ildikó Rácz from the Bonn Institute of Molecular Psychiatry explains. She led the study together with her colleague Britta Schürmann and the director of the institute, Professor Dr. Andreas Zimmer.
The endorphin effect was particularly marked in female mice. Normally these tend to hit the bottle more than males. 'But without endorphins, the decrease in their desire for alcohol was particularly drastic.' Dr Rácz adds. By contrast, in males the absence of the endorphins made less difference.
From mice to humans
Then the scientists scrutinised genes which are important in the human endorphin metabolism. For this they analysed blood samples of just short of a total of 500 female and male alcoholics for peculiarities. Successfully. 'We were able to show that two genetic changes in the genes of female alcoholics occurred significantly more frequently than in healthy women,' is how Dr Rácz sums up the results. 'We don’t know what the exact effect of these changes is.' By contrast, the scientists did not find any changes that indicated a contribution of endorphins in male alcoholics.
Women with a particular genetic make-up could therefore be at greater risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. 'Today we estimate the influence of the genes in this disease to be at least 50 per cent,' Ildikó Rácz explains. However, she warns against exaggerating the results. 'We can only evaluate how large the influence of the genetic mutations we found really is after carrying out further research.'
At least it seems to be a bit clearer now that endorphins really do play a role in the development of ethanol addiction. Animal experiments provided more contradictory answers to this question, probably also because alcohol consumption is in fact likewise dependent on environmental influences and therefore on the conditions the experiments were carried out under. As Ildikó Rácz says: 'However, our research clearly assigns a fundamental role to endorphins.
Dr. Ildikó Rácz | alfa
Electrical 'switch' in brain's capillary network monitors activity and controls blood flow
27.03.2017 | Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences