Brain s immune system could make us impulsive to drink alcohol
Sydney Sep 17 (IANS) Love to drown yourself in a peg of whiskey each evening? It may be due to impulsiveness of the brain s immune system according to a study.
The findings showed a link between the brain s immunity and the motivation to drink alcohol at night. This may be because our body s circadian rhythms affect the "reward" signals we receive in the brain from drug-related behaviour and the peak time for this reward typically occurs during the evening or dark phase the researchers said. "Alcohol is the world s most commonly consumed drug and there is a greater need than ever to understand the biological mechanisms that drive our need to drink alcohol " said lead author Jon Jacobsen PhD student at the University of Adelaide Australia. "We wanted to test what the role of the brain s immune system might have on that reward and whether or not we could switch it off " Jacobsen added. In the study published in the journal Brain Behaviour and Immunity the team switched off the impulse to drink alcohol by giving mice a drug that blocks a specific response from the immune system in the brain. The researchers administered the drug (+)-Naltrexone which is known to block the immune receptor Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in mice. The results showed a significant reduction in alcohol drinking behaviour by mice that had been given (+)-Naltrexone specifically at night when the reward for drug-related behaviour is usually at its greatest. "We concluded that blocking a specific part of the brain s immune system did in fact substantially decrease the motivation of mice to drink alcohol in the evening " Jacobsen said. These findings point to the need for further research to understand the implications for drinking behaviour in humans the researchers noted. --IANS rt/amit/ksk