Enhanced brain acetate metabolism may reward heavy drinkers

In addition to its well-known effects on the CNS, alcohol consumption has a significant impact on metabolism. After consumption, the body rapidly begins converting ethanol to acetate, which can serve as an energy source for the brain and other organs. Lihong Jiang and colleagues at Yale University used a brain imaging technique, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, to track acetate uptake and metabolism in the brains of heavy drinkers (consumed at least 8 drinks/week) and light drinkers (consumed less than 2 drinks/week).

n this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, they report that heavy drinkers had greater, more rapid acetate uptake and metabolism compared to light drinkers. Because ethanol consumption can cause acute drops in , acetate has the potential to provide a compensatory energetic reward. Additionally, acetate metabolism produces adenosine, which has a sedating effect similar to alcohol.

These findings suggest that the provision of acetate and/or enhancement of adenosine during alcohol detoxification could help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

More information: Increased brain uptake and oxidation of acetate in heavy drinkers, J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI65153.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study confirms breast cancer link to low alcohol use

Sep 26, 2014

A newly published study from the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) confirms that moderate drinkers have an increased risk of breast cancer. The study shows that consuming an average of ...

Not all Hispanics are the same when it comes to drinking

Sep 25, 2014

Hispanics are often grouped into a single category when it comes to alcohol use. Yet a new Michigan State University study indicates that the risk of alcohol abuse and dependence can vary significantly among different subgroups ...

Researchers find NAS treatment needs standardization

Sep 25, 2014

When it comes to treating infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) believe the care for these infants should be consistent and objective, with standardized ...

User comments