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Friday, November 2, 2012

Moderate drinking? Alcohol consumption significantly decreases neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus

Drinking alcohol in moderation is often considered a health-conscious behavior, associated with improved cardiovascular and brain health. However, “moderate” amounts of alcohol include drinking 3–4 alcohol beverages in a day, which is closer to binge drinking and may do more harm than good. 

Here we examined how daily drinking of moderate-high alcohol alters the production of new neurons in the adult hippocampus. 

Male and female adult Sprague–Dawley rats were provided free access to a liquid replacement diet that was supplemented with either 4% ethanol or Maltodextrin for a period of 2 weeks. Proliferating cells were labeled with 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) and the number of BrdU-positive cells in the hippocampus was assessed after the final day of drinking. A subset of rats was also exposed to a motor skill or associative learning task to examine the functional effects of alcohol consumption. The drinking regime resulted in an average blood alcohol concentration of approximately 0.08%, which is comparable to the human legal driving limit in many countries. 

This level of intoxication did not impair motor skill learning or function in either sex, nor did the alcohol consumption disrupt associative learning 2 days after drinking. 

Therefore, moderate alcohol consumption did not disrupt basic sensory, motor or learning processes. However, the number of cells produced in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus was reduced by nearly 40%. Thus, even moderate consumption of alcohol for a relatively short period of time can have profound effects on structural plasticity in the adult brain.

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Polyphosphoinositide Metabolism and Golgi Complex Morphology in Hippocampal Neurons in Primary Culture is Altered by Chronic Ethanol Exposure

 Ethanol affects not only the cytoskeletal organization and activity, but also intracellular trafficking in neurons in the primary culture. Polyphosphoinositide (PPIn) are essential regulators of many important cell functions, including those mentioned, cytoskeleton integrity and intracellular vesicle trafficking. Since information about the effect of chronic ethanol exposure on PPIn metabolism in neurons is scarce, this study analysed the effect of this treatment on three of these phospholipids. 

Phosphatidylinositol (PtdIns) levels as well as the activity and/or levels of enzymes involved in their metabolism were analysed in neurons chronically exposed to ethanol. The levels of phospholipases C and D, and phosphatidylethanol formation were also assessed. The consequence of the possible alterations in the levels of PtdIns on the Golgi complex (GC) was also analysed. 

We show that phosphatidylinositol (4,5)-bisphosphate and phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate levels, both involved in the control of intracellular trafficking and cytoskeleton organization, decrease in ethanol-exposed hippocampal neurons. In contrast, several kinases that participate in the metabolism of these phospholipids, and the level and/or activity of phospholipases C and D, increase in cells after ethanol exposure. Ethanol also promotes phosphatidylethanol formation in neurons, which can result in the suppression of phosphatidic acid synthesis and, therefore, in PPIn biosynthesis. This treatment also lowers the phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate levels, the main PPIn in the GC, with alterations in their morphology and in the levels of some of the proteins involved in structure maintenance

The deregulation of the metabolism of PtdIns may underlie the ethanol-induced alterations on different neuronal processes, including intracellular trafficking and cytoskeletal integrity.

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SAMHSA's Latest Inservice Training

Based on Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 41, Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy Inservice Training provides seven scripted modules to assist treatment program staff in understanding and implementing evidence-based group therapy practices. The modules include:
  • Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Types of Groups Used in Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Criteria for the Placement of Clients in Groups
  • Group Development and Phase-Specific Tasks
  • Stages of Treatment
  • Group Leadership, Concepts, and Techniques
  • Supervision

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TACR1 Genotypes Predict fMRI Response to Alcohol Cues and Level of Alcohol Dependence

The tachykinin receptor 1 (TACR1) gene is a promising candidate gene in the search for the genetic basis of alcohol dependence (AD); TACR1 antagonists improve symptomology not only in preclinical models of AD but also in a clinical sample of detoxified alcoholics (George et al., Science 319:1536, 2008). The purpose of the current study was to determine whether TACR1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were associated with (i) blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) activation in response to gustatory alcohol cues in a sample of heavy drinkers and (ii) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, text revision (DSM-IV-TR) AD symptom count in a large, publicly available data set—the Study of Addictions: Genetics and Environment Genome Wide Association study (SAGE GWAS) (Bierut et al., 2010).

First, we examined relationships between TACR1 genotypes and neural responses during a craving task in 326 individuals with alcohol use disorders. Next, correlational analyses between 69 TACR1 SNPs and DSM-IV-TR AD symptoms were performed on the SAGE data set.

rs3771863, rs3755459, and rs1106855 predicted BOLD activation in response to alcohol cues in those same reward and reinforcement brain areas, especially in the medial prefrontal cortex, striatum, and insula. rs3771863 also predicted AD symptom count in the SAGE data set and BOLD activation in the mesocorticolimbic pathway response to alcohol cues.

Each of the 5 SNPs in the TACR1 gene that was significantly related to AD severity in the SAGE data set and/or the BOLD response to the craving task is near the 3′ or 5′ areas of the gene and may therefore be near mutations with potential functional significance.

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Combined Proteomic Analysis of Liver Tissue and Serum in Chronically Alcohol-Fed Rats

Proteomic approaches may provide new insights into pathological conditions associated with alcoholism. The aim of this study was to conduct a proteomic analysis of liver tissue and serum in chronically alcohol-fed rats using agarose 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and 3-step serum proteome analysis.

A total of 12 rats were pair-fed nutritionally adequate liquid diet containing ethanol as 36% of the total energy or an isocaloric control diet for 2 months. Rat liver homogenates and cytosol fractions were subjected to agarose 2-DE. Serum samples were subjected to 3-step serum proteome analysis involving immunodepletion of abundant proteins followed by fractionation using reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography and 1-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Candidate proteins were digested with trypsin and identified using mass spectrometry. Observed differences in protein expression levels were confirmed using Western blotting.

A total of 46 protein spots were found to be differentially expressed in the liver homogenates and cytosol fractions of alcohol-fed rats relative to pair-fed controls. The most notable change was down-regulation of a 29-kDa protein, which was subsequently identified as carbonic anhydrase III (CA III). Down-regulation of this protein in alcohol-fed rats was confirmed by Western blotting. The messenger RNA level of CA III was decreased as well. In rat serum, a total of 41 proteins were differentially expressed. Of these proteins, only betaine–homocysteine methyltransferase (BHMT) was also found to be differentially expressed in the liver.

A combined proteomic analysis of liver tissue and serum in chronically alcohol-fed rats revealed that the expression of CA III is significantly down-regulated in the liver of alcohol-fed rats. Our results also showed that BHMT expression is up-regulated in both the liver and serum of alcohol-fed rats.

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Effect of Predictive Cuing on Response Inhibition in Children with Heavy Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Heavy prenatal exposure to alcohol leads to widespread cognitive deficits, including problems with attention and response inhibition. This study examined blood oxygen level-dependent response in children with and without histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure during a task of response inhibition consisting of cued and noncued trials.

Children and adolescents (ages 8 to 18 years) with (alcohol-exposed [AE] = 20) and without (control [CON] = 15) histories of heavy prenatal exposure to alcohol underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing a go/no-go task. Unbeknownst to subjects, a predictive cue preceded the no-go stimulus in 87% of trials.

Groups were matched on demographic variables and did not differ on most measures of task performance. However, following cued stimuli, the AE group demonstrated a lower hit rate to go stimuli and more conservative response bias than the CON group. AE participants demonstrated more activation during no-go trials (inhibition) relative to go trials in the left precuneus, cingulate gyrus, anterior cingulate, and right medial frontal gyrus. During cue-dependent response inhibition, the AE group demonstrated less activation in the left precentral and postcentral gyrus compared to the CON group.

Consistent with previous studies of response inhibition, the AE group demonstrated greater frontal and parietal activation when attempting to inhibit prepotent responses than the CON group, despite similar rates of commission errors. This study further demonstrated that the AE group had impaired behavioral performance on cued trials and demonstrated less activation in precentral and postcentral gyri relative to the CON group on these trials. This investigation provides evidence of impaired behavioral and neural processing of sequential information in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can help improve inhibition in typical populations.

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'Protecting People, Promoting Health: A public health approach to violence prevention for England'

A new report has been released by the North West Public Health Observatory (NWPHO):
'Protecting People, Promoting Health: A public health approach to violence prevention for England' [pdf]

'The report describes the major roles public health and health care services can play in reducing levels of violence across the country alongside their functions in dealing with the impacts of violence on health. The documents contain new figures on the cost of violence, estimating national costs to the NHS of £2.9 billion annually and a wider cost to society of £29.9 billion each year.  > > > >  Read More

Monday, October 29, 2012

Media Release - Health survey shows we drink and smoke less, but we've packed on the kilos

First results from the Australian Health Survey have some good and bad news; smoking rates continue to fall, as do rates of drinking at risky levels, but the number of people who are overweight and obese continues to rise.   > > >  Read More

Alcohol News - 44/2012

Medical Daily (Finland) - Just One Alcoholic Drink a Day Could Lower Your Ability to Learn New Things
New study, from researchers at Rutgers University and the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, has suggested that even moderate drinking could place drinkers at risk. Lead author Megan Anderson and her colleagues state that moderate drinking could place imbibers at risk for lower production of brain cells and decreased ability for certain types of learning.
Helsinki Times (Finland) - The disadvantages of alcohol increased five-fold in 20 years
“THE disadvantages for society caused by drinking in Finland have increased five-fold in 20 years, a yet unpublished study by the University of Eastern Finland reports. This year alone will result in a loss of a billion euro, as the loss is compared with Finland’s gross domestic product. In 1990 the drinking deficit amounted to 212 million euro.
Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Norway) - Alcohol plus medicine – a dangerous combination in traffic
The accident risk is very high if a driver combines alcohol with hypnotic or sedative medicines. This is the finding from a recent study by researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, in collaboration with Oslo University Hospital, Ullevaal and the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research.
Baltimore Sun (USA) - Alcohol companies target African-American youth
It is no secret that for decades, tobacco companies have filled disadvantaged communities with advertising and marketing attracting generations of young people of color to the products they peddle. A new report from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that alcohol companies are taking a page from the tobacco industry's playbook.
BBC News (UK) - Norwich alcohol sales ban proposed after crime rise
Reductions to late-night drinking hours are a step closer in Norwich following a vote by a city council committee. (South Africa) - South Africa: Alcohol Advertising Ban Still a Hot Debate
The advertising industry, civil society, academia and government, earlier this week, deliberated on the issue of banning alcohol advertising in a heated debate held in Johannesburg.
The Australian (Australia) - Indigenous MPs call for choice on grog
ABORIGINAL members of the Northern Territory parliament have spoken out in support of returning control over grog restrictions to local communities.
GlobalPost (USA) - Drug and alcohol problems in US rose by 70% over past decade: study
The number of drug and alcohol problems diagnosed by doctors in the US has increased 70 percent between 2001 and 2009, according to new research. (New Zealand) - MP defends proposed changes to alcohol law
Invercargill MP Eric Roy has defended the Government's Alcohol Reform Bill but says it does not always go far enough. The debate over the bill is expected to take up to 27 hours, or three weeks, of Parliamentary time, and feature a succession of unwhipped votes, where MPs do not have to vote with their party.
The Independent (UK) - Cheap alcohol is 'devastating' life in the North East
Doctors in the North East of England have urged the Government to set a 50p minimum price per unit on alcohol following concerns about its “devastating impact” on the region's health.
BBC News (Scotland) - Scottish minimum price law for alcohol tested in court
The drinks industry is going to court to challenge Scottish government plans for a minimum price per unit of alcohol.
Scientific American - Alcoholism and Social Exclusion
Treating alcoholism is incredibly difficult on many levels. One of the most difficult areas to deal with is social interaction, how people with alcoholism can interact with others.
Coastal Times (Canada) - Minimum pricing benefits not just small beer – study
THE evidence in favour of minimum pricing for alcohol is so strong it is only a matter of time before it is introduced, says the author of new research finding the policy had drastic effects when it was implemented overseas.
The Conversation (Australia) - The government has it wrong on alcohol’s role in chronic diseases
The Commonwealth government looks set to lose its top position in preventative health measures. Despite its world-first efforts on tobacco control, when the government next steps onto the world stage, it will be not be as a leader – its position on alcohol is out of step with the World Health Organization and contrary to evidence.
RIA Novosti (Russia) - Russia May Ban Cheap Wine
The Russian government may set minimum prices for wines to compensate domestic winemakers for rising world prices due to poor grape harvests in Russia and Europe, Izvestia daily reported on Monday.
Fleet News Online (France) - Car breathalyser fine enforcement delayed in France until March 2013
Fines to enforce the new law, which was introduced earlier this year, were due to come into effect on 1st November, but this has now been delayed until March 2013. At present, drivers including visitors from the UK face caution if caught driving in France without the compulsory kit.
BBC News (Scotland) - Scotland requests more drink-drive powers from UK government
More powers over drink-driving should be devolved to Scotland, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has said.
Voxy (New Zealand) - Local alcohol policies 'must be made compulsory'
New Zealand First says the Government must make it compulsory for every district and city council to adopt local alcohol policies.