Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Does Gene Variant Make Women More Prone to Alcoholism?

08.07.2008
A particular gene variant might make women more susceptible to alcoholism. At least, a study carried out by the Universities of Bonn and Sweden's Karolinska Institute makes this a plausible conclusion.

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.'

Contact:
Dr. Ildikó Rácz
Institute of Molecular Psychiatry
University of Bonn
Telephone: ++49 (0)228 6885-316
Fax: ++49 (0)228 6885-301
Email: iracz@uni-bonn.de

Dr. Andreas Archut | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center

nachricht Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths
30.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>