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Regards to all our listeners!
I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health-oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
The discovery of a previously unknown neurobiological and molecular mechanism in the brain seems to be linked to alcoholism in rats — and may be applicable to humans, suggests a pioneering study recently published in Science.
Specifically, the study provides the first animal model of alcoholism among rats, who self-administered alcohol and rejected a sweet saccharin. Among the 620 rats in the study, about 15 percent eventually preferred alcohol and continued to self-administer despite receiving a shock that was not given for attractive alternatives.
In an article that accompanied the study, the author explains the dependent rats began to display compulsive behaviors that are highly similar to adults with alcoholism. In fact, the percentage of rats that became alcohol dependent is similar to the proportion of humans who rely on alcohol among persons who drink regularly.
The author explains (and we quote): 'the proportion of rats exhibiting this aberrant choice behavior and characteristics of alcoholism is remarkable because it corresponds to the proportion of humans that develop alcohol dependence among those that regularly consume alcohol' (end of quote).
In addition, the neurobiological and molecular pathways among the alcohol dependent rats were found to be different. Specifically, the expression of a specific gene in the brain comparatively was reduced in alcohol dependent rats. The discovery of a genetic pathway may provide an opportunity for future research as well as potentially targeted therapy.
The author writes (and we quote): 'The study.... underlines the value of animal models for exploring addictive behavior' (end of quote).
The author adds previous research on the progression to alcoholism has focused on: the formation of habits; the development of craving for alcohol in response to conditioned cues and stress; and impaired behavioral control. The author explains the current findings add a potentially new dimension to understanding alcoholism and the aberrant behaviors that are associated with alcohol abuse.
The author notes alcohol abuse is associated with more than 200 diseases and 3.3 million deaths annually globally.
Meanwhile, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides evidence-based information about alcohol use disorders within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's alcoholism and alcohol abuse health topic page.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides additional, helpful information about the symptoms of alcohol abuse disorder in the 'symptoms' section of MedlinePlus.gov's alcoholism and alcohol abuse health topic page.
Links to the latest pertinent journal research articles about alcoholism are available in the 'journal articles' section of MedlinePlus.gov's alcoholism and alcohol abuse health topic page. Links to relevant clinical trials that may be occurring in your area also are available in the 'clinical trials' section.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's alcoholism and alcohol abuse health topic page, please type 'alcoholism' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'alcoholism and alcohol abuse (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also contains health topic pages on: alcohol; alcohol use disorder; impaired driving; and underage drinking.
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It was nice to be with you. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!