Binge drinking affects male and female brains differently

Gene expression in an area of the brain linked to addiction is affected differently by repeated binge drinking in males and females, finds a new study published today in Frontiers in Genetics. It reveals for the first time that genes associated with hormone signaling and immune function are affected by repeated binge drinking in female mice, whereas genes associated with nerve signaling are affected in males. These findings have significant implications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder as they emphasize the importance of tailoring effective therapies towards male and female patients.

“We show that repeated binge drinking significantly alters molecular pathways in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain linked to addiction. A comparison of activated pathways reveals different responses in each sex, similar to that reported in recent research on male and female mice tested during the withdrawal phase following chronic alcohol intoxication,” says Deborah Finn, a Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University and a Research Pharmacologist at the VA Portland Health Care System, USA.

She continues, “These findings are important as they increase our understanding of male and female differences in molecular pathways and networks that can be influenced by repeated binge drinking. This knowledge can help us identify and develop new targeted treatments for alcohol use disorder in males and female patients.”

Full story at Science Daily

Adolescent binge drinking disrupts mouse memory in adulthood

Excessive drinking during adolescence may interfere with the activity of brain cells needed for sustaining short term memory, according to new research in adolescent male mice published in JNeurosci. The study could help scientists better understand the development of alcohol use disorders in adults.

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the behavior-management abilities it supports — both of which continue to mature throughout the teenage years — are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heavy alcohol use during adolescence. Teenage binge drinking is associated with reduced PFC activity, cognitive deficits, and later alcohol abuse. Yet, the mechanisms underlying these observations are unclear.

Full story at Science Daily

Maternal binge drinking linked to mood problems and alcohol abuse in offspring

Binge drinking by pregnant and lactating mothers can impair the mental health of their offspring, reports a study published today in Frontiers in Psychiatry. In a rat model, Italian researchers find that while habitual drinking is associated with anxiety type of behaviors in mothers and their offspring, intermittent or binge drinking has a depressive effect. Moreover, offspring of binge-drinking mothers were less responsive to natural stimuli, showed greater “despair” behavior, and were more vulnerable to alcohol abuse during adolescence. This is the first study to show that alcohol-triggered changes in the mother can be passed on to her offspring.

It is commonly assumed that alcohol is easily discontinued during pregnancy, as recommended by physicians. “But this is not always the case for habitual drinkers,” says Dr. Carla Cannizzaro, the lead author of the study. “Pregnant women might also think intermittent social drinking is less harmful than daily drinking.”

To examine the consequences of maternal drinking — either continuously or intermittently — Cannizzaro and co-workers at the Università degli Studi di Palermo, Italy, used a rat model. In the study, pregnant and lactating female rats were given water that contained alcohol in a manner that mimicked habitual and binge drinking in women. At the end of the study period, the rat mothers and their offspring underwent a battery of tests to assess mood and behavior.

Full story at Science Daily

Binge drinking in college may lower chances of landing a job after college

Heavy drinking six times a month reduces the probability that a new college graduate will land a job by 10 percent, according to Tel Aviv University and Cornell University research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Previous studies were unable to determine the precise effect of alcohol consumption on first-time employment. But according to the new study, each individual episode of student binge-drinking during a month-long period lowers the odds of attaining full-time employment upon graduation by 1.4 percent.

“The manner in which students drink appears to be more influential than how much they drink when it comes to predicting the likelihood of getting a job upon graduation,” says Prof. Peter Bamberger of TAU’s Coller School of Business Management and Cornell University, who co-authored the study with Prof. Samuel Bacharach of Cornell University; Prof. Mary Larimer and Prof. Irene Geisner, both of the University of Washington; Jacklyn Koopmann of Auburn University; Prof. Inbal Nahum-Shani of the University of Michigan; and Prof. Mo Wang of the University of Florida.

Full story at Science Daily

Binge drinking accelerates alcohol use disorder, but stable daily drinking may be just as risky in the long-term

Prior research suggests that binge drinking may increase people’s risk of developing alcohol use disorders (AUDs), especially adolescents and young adults. It is unclear whether different drinking patterns — for example, intermittent versus regular drinking -have a different impact on the compulsive drinking that characterizes people with AUDs. This study used rats to examine whether chronic intermittent alcohol access facilitates a transition to compulsive-like drinking.

Researchers gave rats access to either intermittent (binge) or continuous (stable) alcohol for five months, followed by chronic exposure to alcohol vapors. They then measured the rats’ escalation of alcohol intake and compulsive-like responses to alcohol.

Full story of binge drinking and alcohol use disorder at Science Daily