25 February 2015

The hormone of love saves from alcoholism

Scientists: the hormone of family happiness turned out to be the most effective sobering up agent

RIA NewsOxytocin, the hormone of love and family happiness, very effectively protects brain cells from the effects of ethyl alcohol and significantly reduces the desire to drink, which will allow it to be used in the future to suppress the effects of prolonged libations and the treatment of alcoholism, scientists say in an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Bowen et al., Oxytocin prevents ethanol actions at delta subunit-containing GABAA receptors and attenuates ethanol-induced motor impairment in rats – VM).

"As a first step in subsequent experiments, we will try to find a method for transporting oxytocin to the human brain in such doses that it could act on it. If we manage to solve this problem, then most likely medicines based on it will return a person not only confidence in movements, but also reduce the degree of fogginess of his consciousness and minimize speech problems that arise with a large amount of alcohol," said Michael Bowen from the University of Sydney (Australia).

Bowen and his colleagues uncovered this unusual phenomenon by trying to suppress movement coordination disorders in rats, which they watered with large doses of strong alcoholic beverages.

Among humans, they manifest themselves in classic symptoms – in a "drunken" gait, shakiness, shaking of hands and other external signs of drunk people, whereas in rodents they manifest themselves in a completely different way. As biologists explain, a tipsy rat or mouse practically stops moving and freezes in one part of its cage or burrow, whereas normal rodents rarely spend more than a minute in the same place.

Video from the University of Sydney press release: Sobering effect of the love hormone – VM

Coordination problems arise due to the fact that ethyl alcohol molecules bind to the so-called delta-GABA receptors on the surface of neurons. They play an important role in the work of the brain and the whole organism as a whole, since the main "inhibitory" hormone of the nervous system, gamma–aminobutyric acid (GABA), clings to these protein outgrowths, causing neurons to decrease activity. For this reason, alcohol has a relaxing and calming effect on a person.

Bowen's group tried to prevent ethanol from "capturing" GABA receptors by injecting various substances into the body of rats, including oxytocin, which either inhibit the work of these outgrowths, or prevent alcohol from binding to them.

"The rats who took oxytocin passed the rat equivalent of a breathalyzer with a bang and with distinction, while other tipsy rodents suffered from serious violations in the coordination of movements. Oxytocin suppressed this effect to such an extent that we could not understand from the behavior of the rats whether they really drank or not," Bowen continues.

This effect occurred within five minutes after the introduction of small doses of oxytocin into the rat's body and continued to persist for several hours. Interestingly, the rodents had no desire to "refuel" and suppress the effect of the hormone of happiness with a new portion of alcohol. This allows us to hope that oxytocin-based anti-alcohol drugs will not lead to an aggravation of alcoholism and death as a result of an ethanol overdose.

As Bowen jokingly notes, oxytocin will not save drivers from a fine – the hormone does not accelerate the withdrawal of alcohol from the blood and the whole body as a whole, it only suppresses its effect, which is why a policeman's request to "breathe into a tube" will always end in trouble for a drunk person. Nevertheless, as scientists admit, the return of normal coordination and mental clarity should reduce the number of accidents.

The main disadvantage of oxytocin is that it cannot prevent the effects of taking very large doses of alcohol. According to biologists, this is due to the fact that in such cases alcohol acts on the body through some other mechanisms unrelated to GABA receptors.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru25.02.2015

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