A Faculty of 1000 evaluation examines how a stomach-produced hormone that influences the desire to eat and consume alcohol could be switched off to control drinking problems.
The study, carried out by Jerlhag et al. at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, showed that the hormone ghrelin, typically released by the stomach and known to promote appetite and therefore the intake of food, also influences the consumption of alcohol.
The results, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, showed that mice injected with ghrelin and then given the choice of alcohol or water to drink, were more likely to choose alcohol. At the same time, mice treated with ghrelin antagonists, as well as knockout mice (mice with the hormone's receptor removed), proved resistant to the effects of alcohol.
Faculty of 1000 Biology reviewer Kent Berridge of the University of Michigan says the ghrelin-injected mice showed more than a typical appetite for calories in choosing alcohol and the findings might influence treatment strategies for alcoholism.
Professor Berridge says, "These results seem to suggest a role for the effects of ghrelin on the brain in the motivation for alcohol consumption."
Kent Berridge, Faculty Member for f1000 Biology, is James Olds Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan.
The full text of the evaluation of is available free for 90 days here.
An abstract of the original paper by Jerlhag et al. (Requirement Of Central Ghrelin Signaling For Alcohol Reward) is available here.
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