In a recent study from the University of Aberdeen and elsewhere, researchers found how sections of DNA might contribute to the risk of alcohol abuse in men.
They found a section of DNA that switches on key genes in parts of the brain that control alcohol intake and mood.
Identified for the first time, these sections of DNA may act as future drug targets for the development of new medicines to treat alcohol abuse and anxiety in men.
The study is published in Molecular Psychiatry. The lead author is Dr. Alasdair MacKenzie.
Alcohol abuse kills millions of people around the world each year and can account for up to 8% of all male deaths. Given the link between anxiety and alcohol abuse, this increase is not really surprising.
In the study, the team examined human DNA to find genetic mechanisms that could contribute to the relationship between anxiety and alcohol.
They found that changes within ‘switch’ section of DNA were linked to alcohol abuse in men who also suffered anxiety.
This link prompted them to use CRISPR genome editing in mice to delete this switch from the mouse DNA.
They found male mice without the switch showed fewer signs of anxiety compared to the normal male mice who tended to hide. So the results of our mouse tests mirrored the results found in humans.
This is the first time that a switch has been identified that has been linked to behaviors with such a major impact on human health.
They believe that their unique approach provides a template for understanding the role of genetic switches in the development of other complex psychiatric diseases whose causes have so far evaded scrutiny.
If you care about alcohol and your health, please read studies about is alcohol harmful or helpful? It depends on your age and findings of Alzheimer’s drug may reverse brain damage from alcohol drinking.
For more information about alcohol and wellness, please see recent studies about moderate alcohol drinking linked to less chronic pain, depression and results showing that this depression drug may help treat alcohol use disorder.
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