Pinpointing the damage alcohol does to the brain

July 15, 2014 by Lindsay Brooke, University of Nottingham
Pinpointing the damage alcohol does to the brain

(Medical Xpress)—New research has identified, for the first time, the structural damage at a molecular level that excessive alcohol abuse causes to the brain.

The study, led by The University of Nottingham, detected the loss and modification of several key cellular proteins in the brains of alcoholics.

Published in the academic journal PloS ONE, the research will help scientists make informed choices on appropriate drugs and diet to reduce brain damage and limit addictive behaviour in alcoholics.

Dr Wayne Carter, who is based in the Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine in the School of Medicine, said: "Excessive is a global social and financial healthcare problem of epidemic proportions. We have provided an insight into some of the and cellular that arises in alcoholic patients. The hope is that we can improve the lives of alcoholics and reduce the number of deaths associated with alcoholism."

Chronic excessive alcohol intoxications have a cumulative effect on damage to brain tissue and other organs. However, the long-term effects of alcohol consumption on the structure and function of the brain are not well understood.

The study: 'Alcohol-Related Brain Damage in Humans' was carried out in collaboration with the School of Life Sciences at The University of Nottingham, the Basque Institute of Legal Medicine and the University of the Basque Country.

Post-mortem was examined from control donors and 20 matched alcoholics, and tissue and protein damage assessed. 

Studying the prefrontal cortex, researchers detected alterations in the neuronal cytoskeleton in the brains of alcoholic patients. These changes in the neuronal structure, induced by ethanol ingestion, can affect the organisation, the capacity for making connections and the functioning of the neuronal network, and could largely explain alterations in cognitive behaviour and in learning, attributed to persons suffering from alcoholism.

Explore further: Alcohol abuse damage in neurons at molecular scale identified for first time

More information: Erdozain AM, et al.. "Alcohol-related brain damage in humans." PLoS One. 2014 Apr 3;9(4):e93586. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093586. eCollection 2014.

Related Stories

Alcohol abuse damage in neurons at molecular scale identified for first time

June 12, 2014
Joint research between the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and the University of Nottingham has identified, for the first time, the structural damage caused at a molecular level to the brain by the chronic excessive ...

Researchers find that alcohol consumption damages brain's support cells

March 18, 2013
Alcohol consumption affects the brain in multiple ways, ranging from acute changes in behavior to permanent molecular and functional alterations. The general consensus is that in the brain, alcohol targets mainly neurons. ...

Researchers find anti-seizure drug may reduce alcohol consumption

April 17, 2014
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have discovered that the anti-seizure drug ezogabine, reduced alcohol consumption in an experimental model. The findings, reported in the American Journal of Drug ...

Scientists find more genes tied to alcoholism risk

May 20, 2014
(HealthDay)—New research pinpoints 11 gene variations that appear to be linked to a higher risk of alcoholism.

Excessive alcohol use when you're young could have lasting impacts on your brain

January 30, 2013
Excessive alcohol use accounts for 4% of the global burden of disease, and binge drinking particularly is becoming an increasing health issue. A new review article published Cortex highlights the significant changes in brain ...

Recommended for you

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

Scientists unleash power of genetic data to identify disease risk

January 16, 2018
Massive banks of genetic information are being harnessed to shed new light on modifiable health risks that underlie common diseases.

Blood-vessel-on-a-chip provides insight into new anti-inflammatory drug candidate

January 15, 2018
One of the most important and fraught processes in the human body is inflammation. Inflammatory responses to injury or disease are crucial for recruiting the immune system to help the body heal, but inflammation can also ...

Molecule produced by fat cells reduces obesity and diabetes in mice

January 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers have discovered a new biological pathway in fat cells that could explain why some people with obesity are at high risk for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The new findings—demonstrated ...

Obese fat becomes inflamed and scarred, which may make weight loss harder

January 12, 2018
The fat of obese people becomes distressed, scarred and inflamed, which can make weight loss more difficult, research at the University of Exeter has found.

Optimized human peptide found to be an effective antibacterial agent

January 11, 2018
A team of researchers in the Netherlands has developed an effective antibacterial ointment based on an optimized human peptide. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes developing ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.