Author National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Genetic variant that can lead to severe impulsivity identified

A multinational research team led by scientists at the National Institutes of Health has found that a genetic variant of a brain receptor molecule may contribute to violently impulsive behavior when people who carry it are under the influence of alcohol. A report of the findings, which include human genetic analyses and gene knockout studies in animals, appears in the Dec. 23 issue of Nature.

Study finds strategies to reduce college drinking

Highly visible cooperative projects, in which colleges and their surrounding communities target off-campus drinking settings, can reduce harmful alcohol use among college students, according to a report by researchers supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Mice studies suggest treatment target for alcohol problems

A molecular pathway within the brain’s reward circuitry appears to contribute to alcohol abuse, according to laboratory mouse research supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Scientists Find Genes That Influence Brain Wave Patterns

Scientists have identified new genes and pathways that influence an individual’s typical pattern of brain electrical activity, a trait that may serve as a useful surrogate marker for more genetically complex traits and diseases. One of the genes, for example, was found to be associated with alcoholism.

Scientists Identify Brain Circuits Related to the Initiation of Termination of Movement Sequences

In humans, throwing a ball, typing on a keyboard, or engaging in most other physical activities involves the coordination of numerous discrete movements that are organized as action sequences. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health and the Gulbenkian Institute in Portugal have identified brain activity in mice that can signal the initiation and termination of newly learned action sequences. The findings appear online today in the current issue of Nature.

Receptor Variant Influences Dopamine Response to Alcohol

A genetic variant of a receptor in the brain’s reward circuitry plays an important role in determining whether the neurotransmitter dopamine is released in the brain following alcohol intake, according to a study led by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health. Dopamine is involved in transmitting the euphoria and other positive subjective effects produced by alcohol.

Prevention Program Helps Teens Override a Gene Linked to Risky Behavior

A family-based prevention program designed to help adolescents avoid substance use and other risky behavior proved especially effective for a group of young teens with a genetic risk factor contributing toward such behavior, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Georgia. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), components of the National Institutes of Health, supported the study, which appears in the May/June issue of Child Development.

Diet Quality Worsens as Alcohol Intake Increases

People who drink more are also likely to eat less fruit and consume more calories from a combination of alcoholic beverages and foods high in unhealthy fats and added sugars, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Molecule Repairs Alcohol Metabolism Enzyme

An experimental compound repaired a defective alcohol metabolism enzyme that affects an estimated 1 billion people worldwide, according to research supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The findings, published Jan. 10, 2010 in the advance online edition of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, suggest the possibility of a treatment to reduce the health problems associated with the enzyme defect.

Alcohol “Flush” Signals Increased Cancer Risk Among East Asians

Many people of East Asian descent possess an enzyme deficiency that causes their skin to redden, or flush, when they drink alcohol. Scientists from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and Japan’s Kurihama Alcohol Center now caution that heavy alcohol consumption greatly increases the risk for esophageal cancer among such individuals, who comprise about 8 percent of the world’s population. Their review of recent research on this topic appears in the March 24, 2009 issue of PLoS Medicine. NIAAA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Micro RNA Implicated As Molecular Factor in Alcohol Tolerance

In recent years, a class of small molecules known as microRNAs have been found to play an important role in regulating gene products in most animal and plant species. A new study now indicates that microRNA may influence the development of alcohol tolerance, a hallmark of alcohol abuse and dependence. Researchers supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, report the findings in the July 31, 2008 issue of the journal Neuron.

Scientists Link Chromatin Modifications with Alcohol Withdrawal Anxiety

Changes to genetic material in the brain may help induce the anxiety that is characteristic of alcohol withdrawal, according to a new study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The finding points to possible therapies to prevent withdrawal-related anxiety, a driving force behind alcohol use among dependent individuals.