Dr. Lee Walker led a study that found that Removing a certain chemical from the brain leads to an increase in alcohol consumption in men and a decrease in women. However, when alcoholic drinks were sweetenedconsumption among women increased.
Photo: “Wine” by sk8geek is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Dr. Walkerexpert on the neurobiology of anxiety and alcohol use disorders, noted: “These findings could pave the way for the development of treatments aimed at helping women stop binge drinking.”
“Alcohol taste is an important but often underestimated factor that influences preference, consumption and consumption of alcohol,” emphasized Dr. Walker.
“We’ve identified a chemical in the brain that makes alcohol taste bitter to women unless the drink is sweetened.”she added.
Dr. Walker notedthat science has primarily focused on studying male brains. Her research analyzed how women’s brains may differ from men’s and found differences in response to taste.
The study focused on “CART” – a neuropeptide present in all species and associated with energy balance, depression, anxiety and behavior, including alcohol use.
Dr. Walker, together with a graduate student Xavier Maddern and other researchers at Florey, examined the effects of CART inhibition on mice trained to drink alcohol.
“When we inhibited CART in males, their consumption increased. And when we blocked the same chemical in females, they drank less. But when the alcohol was sweetened, females began to drink more. This suggests that without CART, alcohol is unsuitable for consumption among women”, – Dr. Walker explained.
Alcohol consumption leads to approximately 3 million deaths worldwide annually, with alcohol abuse accounting for 5.1% of the global disease burden. Rates of risky drinking and alcohol use disorders are rising much faster in women than in men.
“If in the future we can find a way to target the CART neuropeptide system, we may be able to develop treatments to help women curb their excessive drinking. And if we can figure out what the differences are between male and female brains, this will open up unprecedented possibilities.” for the treatment of brain disorders in women, including alcohol use disorders,” concluded Dr. Walker.