To support the free and open dissemination of research findings and information on alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. To encourage open access to peer-reviewed articles free for all to view.

For full versions of posted research articles readers are encouraged to email requests for "electronic reprints" (text file, PDF files, FAX copies) to the corresponding or lead author, who is highlighted in the posting.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Alcohol consumption in men is influenced by qualitatively different genetic factors in adolescence and adulthood

Alcohol consumption is influenced by genetic factors. Previous studies have examined the heritability of alcohol consumption, or related phenotypes, from adolescence into adulthood, frequently finding that total heritability changes over time. However, it remains unclear whether the same genes underlie liability to alcohol consumption across development versus whether novel risk genes become important over time.

A population-based study of adult male twins (n=1790) born in Virginia, USA, retrospectively reported on their average monthly alcohol consumption from early adolescence through adulthood. We used twin modeling methods to explore genetic and environmental influences on alcohol consumption over time.

One latent genetic factor accounted for the majority of the heritability in alcohol consumption during mid- to late adolescence, but its influence declined thereafter; from young adulthood forward, heritability was largely attributable to a second genetic factor. The total heritability of alcohol consumption increased from 0 at ages 12–14 years to 0.40 by ages 18–21 years. Shared environmental factors declined in influence over time.

The heritability of alcohol consumption over time is dynamic both quantitatively and qualitatively. These results have important implications for gene identification endeavors. Furthermore, these findings could inform efforts to elucidate developmentally dynamic behaviors, such as antisocial behavior.

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Genetic Markers of Comorbid Depression and Alcoholism in Women

Alcohol dependence (AD) is often accompanied by comorbid depression. Recent clinical evidence supports the benefit of subtype-specific pharmacotherapy in treating the population of alcohol-dependent subjects with comorbid major depressive disorder (MDD). However, in many alcohol-dependent subjects, depression is a reactive response to chronic alcohol use and withdrawal and abates with a period of abstinence. Genetic markers may distinguish alcohol-dependent subjects with MDD not tied chronologically and etiologically to their alcohol consumption. In this work, we investigated the association of adenylyl cyclase genes (ADCY1–9), which are implicated in both AD and mood disorders, with alcoholism and comorbid depression.

Subjects from Vienna, Austria (n = 323) were genotyped, and single nucleotide polymorphisms (1,152) encompassing the genetic locations of the 9 ADCY genes were examined. The Vienna cohort contained alcohol-dependent subjects differentiated using the Lesch Alcoholism Typology. In this typology, subjects are segregated into 4 types. Type III alcoholism is distinguished by co-occurrence of symptoms of depression and by affecting predominantly fem

We identified 4 haplotypes associated with the phenotype of Type III alcoholism in females. One haplotype was in a genomic area in proximity to ADCY2, but actually within a lincRNA gene, 2 haplotypes were within ADCY5, and 1 haplotype was within the coding region of ADCY8. Three of the 4 haplotypes contributed independently to Type III alcoholism and together generated a positive predictive value of 72% and a negative predictive value of 78% for distinguishing women with a Lesch Type III diagnosis versus women designated as Type I or II alcoholics.

Polymorphisms in ADCY8 and ADCY5 and within a lincRNA are associated with an alcohol-dependent phenotype in females, which is distinguished by comorbid signs of depression. Each of these genetic locations can rationally contribute to the polygenic etiology of the alcoholism/depression phenotype, and the use of these genetic markers may aid in choosing appropriate and beneficial treatment strategies.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Hazardous drinking among patients attending a minor injuries unit: a pilot study

Excessive alcohol consumption increases the likelihood of accidental injury. This pilot study reports on the prevalence of hazardous drinkers presenting to a minor injuries unit. 

The proportion of hazardous drinkers is broadly similar to that found in emergency departments, suggesting that such units could also host alcohol intervention and brief advice activities.

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Tonic modulatory role of mouse cerebellar α- and β-adrenergic receptors in the expression of ethanol-induced ataxia: Role of AC–cAMP

To further study neurochemical basis of ethanol-induced ataxia (EIA), we investigated role of cerebellar α and β-adrenergic receptors. 

Male CD-1 mice received intracerebellar microinfusion of adrenergic drugs to evaluate their effect on EIA (2 g/kg; ip) by Rotorod. Isoproterenol, phenylephrine (4, 8, 16 ng each), methoxamine (8 ng), and atenolol (2, 4, 8 ng), propranolol (4, 8, 16 ng), markedly attenuated and accentuated, respectively, EIA indicating the tonic nature of modulation. 

The attenuation of EIA by isoproterenol is β1-receptor mediated because it is blocked by atenolol. Tonic β1 modulation is functionally correlated with EIA potentiation by atenolol and propranolol. 

The prazosin-induced attenuation of EIA, initially thought of α1-receptor mediated, appeared instead β1-receptor modulated because of: (i) blockade by atenolol; and (ii) phosphodiesterase inhibition by prazosin.

The phenylephrine/methoxamine-induced attenuation of EIA seems paradoxical as the response is similar to antagonist prazosin. However, functionally the attenuation seems β1 receptor-mediated since atenolol blocked it but prazosin did not.

Also norepinephrine (NE) attenuated EIA that was inhibited by atenolol suggesting role of β1 receptors. Similarly yohimbine and rauwolscine attenuated EIA that indicates α2-receptor modulation associated with stimulation of AC–cAMP pathway. 

The results of study support the hypothesis that attenuation and potentiation of EIA is mediated by activation and inhibition of AC–cAMP pathway, respectively, in agreement with our previous reports, via direct and/or indirect activation of β-receptor.

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Effects of nicotine and alcohol on zebrafish (Danio rerio) shoaling

The zebrafish has been used in the analysis of the effects of drugs of abuse, including alcohol and nicotine. In the current study, we investigate the effects of these drugs on shoaling, group-forming behavior, in zebrafish, using a newly developed set of behavioral measures. 

We expose our fish acutely to 0.25, 0.50, 0.75 or 1.00% (% v/v) ethyl alcohol or 4 or 8 mg/L nicotine by immersing the fish in the corresponding solutions. The behavior of the exposed fish is compared to controls in a large (91 cm diameter) circular tank in which shoals of 8 subjects under the same treatment are allowed to swim freely. Several measures of shoaling are quantified including the nearest neighbour distance (NND), inter-individual distance (IID), swimming speed, polarization (a measure of the directional synchronization of the shoal), and the number and duration of excursions (departures from the shoal). 

Alcohol and nicotine were both found to exert significant effects on shoaling but impaired the behavior in different ways. For example, alcohol strongly disrupted polarization and only modestly reduced shoal cohesion, while nicotine had only a modest effect on polarization but robustly decreased shoal cohesion. Neither drug affected the number or the duration of excursions, but both reduced swimming speed.

These results underscore the notion that using multiple measures of social behavior may allow one to characterize and distinguish different aspects of drug effects on behavior, which may facilitate discovery of novel drugs in drug screens and may also be utilized in the analysis of underlying mechanisms.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

ffects of Sibship Size and Composition on Younger Brothers’ and Sisters’ Alcohol Use Initiation: Findings from an Australian Twin Sample

The effects of sibship size and structure on delinquency are well established. Specifically, having a large family and many brothers has been shown to predict offending. However, despite strong links between delinquency and alcohol use, the contribution of sibship factors to drinking behaviors remains largely unexplored. The current study investigated the impact of sibship size and composition on younger brothers’ and sisters’ ages of drinking and intoxication onset.

We employed a sample of 4,281 same-sex twins from the Australian Twin Register to examine whether (i) large sibship size facilitates earlier age at first drink (AFD) and age at first intoxication (AFI) in males and females, (ii) having many older brothers predicts earlier ages of AFD and AFI in males, and (iii) having many older brothers results in later AFD and AFI in females. We tested whether effects were moderated by parental divorce and alcohol misuse and mediated by familial religion.

Sibling effects were minimal before accounting for family context. However, when parental divorce and excessive parental drinking were included as moderators, sibling effects were significantly amplified among individuals from homes of divorce, and effects were strongest when siblings were close in age.

Strong close in age older sibling effects indicate that proximal sibling attitudes and behaviors about alcohol likely interact with structural factors to influence younger siblings’ drinking. Sibship factors were much more influential in one population (individuals from homes of divorce) than another (respondents with a parental history of excessive drinking), suggesting that sibling effects vary depending on the type of co-occurring familial risk. Prevention efforts performed at the family level, and introduced before first use of alcohol, are likely to delay drinking initiation and help prevent future alcohol problems.

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Effects of Voluntary Access to Sweetened Ethanol During Adolescence on Intake in Adulthood

The prevalence of alcohol use during adolescence is concerning given that early age of alcohol initiation is correlated with the development of alcohol-related problems later in life. The purpose of this series of studies was to assess whether voluntary ethanol (EtOH) exposure during adolescence would influence EtOH drinking behavior in adulthood using an animal model.

Pair-housed Sprague-Dawley adolescent (postnatal day [P] 28 to 42) rats of both sexes were given single bottle access to 1 of 3 solutions in their home cages—10% EtOH in “supersac” (0.125% saccharin and 3% sucrose) (EtOH/SS), supersac without EtOH (SS), or water—for 30 minutes every other day for a total of 8 drinking days or were left nonmanipulated (NM). Animals were NM thereafter until adulthood (P70) at which time they were given 1-bottle, 30 minute limited access tests with 20% EtOH every other day (Exp 1), 10% EtOH in SS (Exp 2), or SS without EtOH (Exp 3).

Adolescent EtOH/SS exposure increased adulthood consumption of EtOH/SS (Exp 2), but not 20% unsweetened EtOH (Exp 1) or SS (Exp 3), with this increase most pronounced at the beginning of the 8 intake day procedure. Access to SS (without EtOH) during adolescence produced an analogous effect, with increased adult SS consumption during the first 2 intake days, but no increases in either of the EtOH test solutions.

Solution-specific increases in adulthood intake after adolescent exposure are most likely associated with solution acceptance due to familiarity. This is an important consideration for future intake studies assessing the influence of EtOH exposure during adolescence on intake of EtOH in adulthood.

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Shifts in Discriminative Control with Increasing Periods of Recovery in the Rat

During recovery from alcoholism, other behavior likely increases. The development of alternative behavior may reduce attention to alcohol-associated stimuli. This could result in greater persistence of the alternative behavior when individuals again encounter alcohol-associated stimuli that might precipitate relapse. Developing animal models of this process could facilitate a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in relapse and recovery. However, current preclinical models of recovery and relapse rarely measure alternative behavior. Thus, our objective was to establish a procedure in rats in which an increase in alternative behavior (responding for food) reduced responding for ethanol (EtOH). The amount of responding for food and EtOH was then assessed after re-exposure to the alcohol-associated stimulus after varying the number of preceding sessions of increased responding for food and reduced responding for EtOH. These results were compared with those from a parallel group responding for saccharin solution instead of EtOH.

The solution (EtOH or saccharin) was always available following 5 responses. Presentation of flashing stimulus lights indicated food delivery followed 150 responses and resulted in responding predominately for the solution (84 to 86% of total responses). Presentation of solid stimulus lights indicated food delivery followed 5 responses and resulted in responding predominately for food (1 to 3% of total responses were for the solution). Rats were exposed to solid light conditions for 0, 1, 2, 4, or 16 consecutive sessions before being re-exposed to the flashing stimulus lights in extinction.

Responding for either solution resumed when rats were re-exposed to the flashing stimulus lights (associated with solution-predominate responding). However, more responses occurred on the food lever with longer recent histories of responding for food instead of the solution.

These results suggest that the longer alternative behavior replaces drinking, the more that attention to stimuli associated with drinking decreases. These results are consistent with the notion that the risk of relapse declines with longer periods of recovery because alternative behavior comes to predominate even in the presence of stimuli associated with drinking.

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Neurophysiological Correlates of Moderate Alcohol Consumption in Older and Younger Social Drinkers

Nearly 40% of adults aged 65 and older in the United States consume alcohol. Research in older adults has largely examined potential health effects of a moderate drinking lifestyle. Examination of acute effects in this population is generally lacking. To investigate alcohol-induced alteration of electrophysiological correlates of attention in this population, we employed a covert attentional task. We hypothesized that moderate alcohol administration as well as older age would reduce P3 amplitude and increase latency. We anticipated an interaction such that, relative to their age-matched controls, older adults receiving alcohol would be more affected than their younger counterparts.

Participants included healthy older (aged 50 to 67; n = 20; 9 men) and younger (aged 25 to 35; n = 12; 5 men) moderate drinkers. Participants received either a moderate dose of alcohol (breath alcohol concentration ∼50 mg/dl) or a placebo beverage. Following absorption, the task was administered and neurophysiological measures were obtained. P3 amplitude and latency were separately subjected to ANOVA across cue conditions using age and dose as independent variables.
As predicted, P3 amplitude in older adults was significantly lower than in younger adults across cue conditions. An age by alcohol interaction was detected, revealing that older adults receiving alcohol showed lower P3 amplitudes than any other group. An age effect for P3 latency was found, with older adults having longer latencies than their younger counterparts. A significant age by alcohol interaction for P3 latency was detected, revealing that older adults receiving alcohol displayed delayed P3 latencies relative to older adults receiving placebo. In contrast, younger adults receiving alcohol had reduced latency compared to those receiving placebo, although this effect did not reach significance.

Results suggest that older adults demonstrated alcohol-related shifts in P3 characteristics during an intentional attention task, whereas younger adults failed to demonstrate this pattern.

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Health Survey for England 2011: latest figures on reported consumption

Findings from the the Health Survey for England 2011 have been released, including chapter 6: drinking patterns and chapter 7: drink diary. See here for the trend tables, trend commentary and press release.

The report broadly reflects known general consumption patterns. Young adults are more likely to drink heavily (binge) on a single occasion, but drink on fewer days in the week. Adults over 45 are more likely to drink on most days, but tend to drink less per day. Those from higher socio-economic groups are more likely to drink above the guidelines and do so more regularly. Men drink significantly more than women across most age groups. > > > >  Read More

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The role of cult and feasting in the emergence of Neolithic communities. New evidence from Göbekli Tepe, south-eastern Turkey

Göbekli Tepe is one of the most important archaeological discoveries of modern times, pushing back the origins of monumentality beyond the emergence of agriculture.

We are pleased to present a summary of work in progress by the excavators of this remarkable site and their latest thoughts about its role and meaning.

At the dawn of the Neolithic, hunter-gatherers congregating at Göbekli Tepe created social and ideological cohesion through the carving of decorated pillars, dancing, feasting—and, almost certainly, the drinking of beer made from fermented wild crops.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Extension of Negative Binomial GARCH Model

Traditional crash count models, such as the Poisson and negative binomial models, do not account for the temporal correlation of crash data. In reality, crashes that occur in the same time frame are likely to share unobserved effects that may have been excluded from the model.

If the temporal correlation of crash data is ignored, the estimated parameters can be biased and less precise. Therefore, there is a need to extend the standard crash count data models by incorporating temporal dependence.

Whereas the literature for modeling time series count data is well developed, its applications for traffic crash data are limited. A particularly flexible model for the time series of counts is the negative binomial integer-valued generalized autoregressive conditional heteroscedastic (NBINGARCH) model, which properly accounts for the overdispersion, nonnegativity, and integer-valued features of count data.

In this paper, the NBINGARCH model is extended to incorporate covariates so that the relationship between a time series of counts and correlated external factors may be properly modeled.

The improved performance of the NBINGARCH model is demonstrated through a simulation study and an application to monthly driving under the influence (DUI) fatal crashes in Texas between 2003 and 2009.

In addition, the relationship between monthly vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and gasoline prices in Texas is also examined. Ultimately, gasoline prices had no significant effect on DUI fatal crashes in Texas during that time period, and VMT had a positive effect.

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Mechanistic insights of intestinal absorption and renal conservation of folate in chronic alcoholism

Folate mediated one-carbon metabolism is of fundamental importance for various cellular processes, including DNA synthesis and methylation of biological molecules. Due to the exogenous requirement of folate in mammals, there exists a well developed epithelial folate transport system for regulation of normal folate homeostasis. The intestinal and renal folate uptake is tightly and diversely regulated and disturbances in folate homeostasis like in alcoholism have pathological consequences.

The study was sought to delineate the regulatory mechanism of folate uptake in intestine and reabsorption in renal tubular cells that could evaluate insights of malabsorption during alcoholism.

The folate transporters PCFT and RFC were found to be associated with lipid rafts of membrane surfaces in intestine and kidney. Importantly, the observed lower intestinal and renal folate uptake was associated with decreased levels of folate transporter viz. PCFT and RFC in lipid rafts of intestinal and renal membrane surfaces. The decreased association of folate transporters in lipid rafts was associated with decreased protein and mRNA levels. In addition, immunohistochemical studies showed that alcoholic conditions deranged that localization of PCFT and RFC.

These findings could explain the possible mechanistic insights that may result in folate malabsorption during alcoholism.

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Alcohol News - last in 2012

Daily Nation (Kenya) - Alcohol turning our children into zombies!

Up to the late 1970s, it was rare to encounter a young man staggering home or lying by the roadside dead drunk. These days, it is more common to spot young people in a drunken stupor than elderly persons.

Independent Online (South Africa) - 'Alcohol the enemy of all drivers'

Transport authorities have slated drivers for continuing to drive while under the influence of liquor, saying 60-65 percent of all road fatalities, specially those over weekends, are as a result of alcohol abuse by drivers.

Liverpool Echo (UK) - Liverpool named one of country’s alcohol abuse capitals

LIVERPOOL was named one of the worst cities in the country for alcohol abuse for the third successive year. As thousands head out to bars and clubs to welcome in the New Year tonight, the ECHO can reveal more people were admitted to hospital because of alcohol here than anywhere else in the country – except for Manchester.

Indian Express (UK) - Middle-aged women consuming more alcohol than teen daughters

Middle-aged professional women are drinking more alcohol than their daughters, according to official figures.

Gizmodo Australia (Australia) - What Happens When You Get Alcohol Poisoning?

As regular Happy Hour readers know, there’s nothing we like more than finding new, innovative and fun approaches to drinking. But there’s a darker side that must be acknowledged. Specifically, you can poison yourself and die.

Huffington Post - The Effects Of Alcohol In The Body (INFOGRAPHIC)

Most of us know that drinking too much can lead to car accidents, addictions or worse. We know drinking a little can make us giggly or weepy, lose our balance or lose our lunch, feel ravenously hungry the morning after or want nothing more than to be still in a dark room until that terrible pounding subsides.

The Bay of Plenty Times (New Zealand) - Police plan hard line on alcohol

Police will be taking a hard line on alcohol at New Year celebrations tonight but they predict a relatively orderly night in contrast to the chaos they encountered more than a decade ago when riots broke out in Mount Maunganui.

Kyiv Post (Ukraine) - Regions Party MPs suggest ban on alcohol sale at night

Members of Parliament from the Regions Party faction Iryna Berezhna and Andriy Pinchuk suggest that the sale of beer, alcoholic beverages and low-alcohol drinks should be banned in Ukraine from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. except for at restaurants and cafés.

The Daily Telegraph (Australia) - Editorial: Governments cannot afford to ignore alcohol abuse

INEVITABLY it will be decried in some quarters as yet another example of the nanny state in full flow. Yet basic common sense dictates that if governments have a responsibility for the health of their citizens then alcohol abuse cannot be ignored. (USA) - Study: Alcohol Culture Taking Toll

Thomas Brennan was still unloading his bags at his first duty station when he saw the other Marines drinking on the catwalks.

RT (Russia) - Russians to drink 1.5bn liters of alcohol over New Year holidays

If all the bottles of alcohol drunk by Russians during the upcoming 10-day holidays were put on the equator, they’d wrap the globe 17 times. Defying stereotypes, statistics say vodka is no longer the nation’s favorite strong alcohol drink.

Kyiv Post (Russia) - Russian alcohol preferences not changing, vodka, beer still tops

Russians' preferences in alcoholic beverages are not changing, and vodka and beer are still top of the heap, as evidenced by Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) figures for January-November released on Saturday.

euronews (Poland) - Several die in Poland after drinking poisoned alcohol

A seventh person is believed to have died in Poland as a result of drinking contaminated alcohol.

Middle East Online (Tunisia) - Islamist-led Tunisia to raise alcohol duty

The Islamist-led ruling coalition in Tunisia raised alcohol duty on Wednesday in a bid to bolster state coffers despite criticism from rival Islamists that it was wrong to profit from an activity prohibited by the faith.

Futurity: Research News - Lasting impact from alcohol exposure in utero

Even low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure impact brain development and the effects persist into adulthood, new research suggests.

The Hindu (India) - Most accidents on New Year day are due to drunken driving, say police

R. Vinod Kumar (25), a cab driver and a resident of Murphy Town, was returning home from M.G. Road with his friend after ushering in the New Year last year. His motorcycle hit a car and Kumar sustained severe head injuries. He died on the way to hospital.

Scotsman (Scotland) - Minister in last-minute plea over alcohol pricing

The health secretary yesterday made a last-minute attempt to persuade health ministers in the European Union to back his plan for a minimum unit price for alcohol.

French Tribune (France) - Four-Fifth of the College Engaged in Alcohol Consumption

As reported by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol drinking has become a very big problem among the college students.

Greek Reporter (Greece) - Alcohol Tax Hike Cuts Greek Sales

Just as increased taxes on restaurants and bars have driven down sales and revenues, a big hike in taxes on alcoholic drinks in Greece in a desperate bid to raise money has also backfired, sending tax revenues down and cutting consumption in half.

Courier Mail - Alcohol companies market to children on Facebook and internet

ALCOHOL companies are avoiding restrictions on marketing to children by using Facebook and the internet, with authorities investigating whether advertising codes need to be overhauled. (Russia) - Beer to become 'alcohol' in Russia on New Year's Day

Many Russians consider beer a soft drink – a light refresher that can be guzzled on the way to work or sucked down in great quantities before a picnic and a swim in the river.