Alcohol Addiction  |  September 22, 2016

[caption id=“attachment_384” align=“alignright” width=“376”] Photo credit: IsaacMao via Foter.com / CC BY[/caption]

Many of the actions and reactions of living creatures are governed by substances found in the body called “enzymes.”

Just what’s an enzyme?

It’s a chemical produced by the body to regulate other functions such as digestion and neurological processes.

It just so happens that at least one of the 75,000 enzymes found in humans may regulate “stop” impulses that are intended to control the urge to consume alcohol.

Scientists are now tracking an enzyme called PRDM2 in the hope of better understanding its role in controlling certain behaviors linked to alcohol consumption.

And what they are discovering is intriguing.

It appears that the more a person drinks alcohol, the more the levels of PRDM2 drop in the bloodstream.

To see whether reduced levels of the enzyme might in fact reduce impulse control, scientists conducted research in a study using rats. It was a study approved by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The rats in the study were exposed to alcohol vapor for 14 hours each day, over a period of seven weeks. They were then trained to drink from water containing alcohol.

Researchers found that alcohol dependency in rats does in fact lead to a decrease in production of PRDM2. Disrupting the levels of that enzyme in the blood in turn appears to alter the rodents’ impulse control.

“This is why the laboratory animals continue to consume alcohol, even when it is unpleasant,” a statement from the researchers says. “If the rats are subjected to stress, they also quickly relapse into drinking alcohol.”

To further test their hypothesis, researchers stopped production of PRDM2 in another test group and found that the rats’ ability to control their impulse to drink alcohol was also disrupted.

The hope of this research effort is that with a greater understanding of biological control systems – scientists may be able to create more tailored, personalized addiction interventions that are more effective.

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