Your immune cells could be governing your response to alcohol -- a
finding that could help reduce alcohol dependence.
Mark Hutchinson, research fellow at the University of Adelaide
School of Medical Sciences, said his team has come up with
evidence that an immune response in the brain was involved in
responses to alcohol.
This immune response lies behind alcohol-related behavioural
changes, such as difficulty in walking and talking, the British
Journal of Pharmacology reports.
"Alcohol is consumed annually by two billion people worldwide with
its abuse posing a significant health and social problem," said
Hutchinson, who led the study. "Over 76 million people are
diagnosed with an alcohol abuse disorder."
"This work has significant implications for our understanding of
the way alcohol affects us... It could lead to a way of detecting
people who are at greater risk of developing brain damage after
long-term drinking," said Hutchinson, according to an Adelaide
Researchers studied the effects of giving alcohol to genetically
altered mice. "The results showed that blocking a part of the
immune system, either with the drug or genetically, reduced the
effects of alcohol," Hutchinson said.
He believes similar treatment could work in humans. "Medications
targeting this specific receptor -- toll-like receptor 4 -- may
prove beneficial in treating alcohol dependence and acute
overdoses," Hutchinson said.