A study by Rutgers University has associated chemical changes in two significant genes with excessive and excessive alcohol consumption in adults, which could explain why it is one of the most addictive substances in the world.
Several studies have linked alcoholism with genes but now, a new study reveals that, in addition, excessive consumption of alcohol could change the function of genes related to behavior before this substance, which could explain the addiction triggered by this substance, which causes 3.3 million deaths a year in the world and is linked as a causal factor to more than 200 diseases and disorders. It is estimated that one in five people who drink with some type of frequency will develop alcohol dependence.
The new research, led by Rutgers University, has associated chemical changes in two significant genes with excessive and excessive alcohol consumption in adults. An example is a gene called Per2, involved in the regulation of circadian rhythms and certain brain functions. Studies in mice around him have shown how a mutated version can predispose the subject to a predilection for alcohol.
This recent study analyzed the gene-paired gene along with another for a stress-response protein called hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) in blood samples taken from 47 volunteers participating in a larger experiment on drinking behaviors. In the group there were from moderate drinkers to people who consumed high amounts of alcohol.
These subjects stayed for three days in the hospital, where they spent brief periods observing intense images designed to elevate their stress, neutral images or scenes related to alcohol, followed by a session to taste the taste of different beers. While the volunteers were being told they were testing drinks to determine which ones were paired, their appetite for drinking was actually being rated. The results revealed that the images did not cause a real impact on their desire to consume alcohol: the most drinkers were inclined to drink a few more beers, regardless of what they had seen.
The blood samples taken revealed a tendency to methylation of the Per2 and POMC genes among the drinkers who consumed the most alcohol. This process of masking a gene with a molecule is widely described as an epigenetic change. The code of the gene remains the same, but its expression is altered. In this case, methylation forced genes to decrease their expression.
A larger study could reveal smaller details, but the researchers admitted that the size of their sample was not enough to reveal the differences that might exist. On the other hand, most of the sample was composed of men. Thus, by itself, this study does not show a clear cause and effect. Epigenetic changes can be caused by a series of environmental factors, of which alcohol could be only one. It is possible that both genes have been blocked by stress, or even have been inherited from their parents.
However, following previous research on the influence of alcohol consumption on the Per2 genes, this study would point out that excessive consumption of alcohol leads to epigenetic changes that in turn increase the craving or craving for drinking. “We discovered that people who drink a lot may be changing their DNA in a way that makes them want more alcohol,” says Rutgers University endocrinologist Dipak K. Sarkar.