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Optical microscopy helps to identify alcohol abuse damage in neurons at a molecular scale

ALCOHOLICS NEW HOPE IN REPAIRING DAMAGE FROM ABUSE USE
06/13/2014
 alcohol abuse chart image www.newcures.info

Researchers at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU; Spain) and the University of Nottingham in England have identified, for the first time, the structural damage caused at a molecular level to the brain by chronic, excessive alcohol abuse. Using a combination of techniques—including optical microscopy—the research team has determined the alterations produced in the neurons of the prefrontal cortex (which controls executive functions such as planning, designing strategies, working memory, selective attention, or control of behavior). The research could lead to new drug developments and therapies that enhance the life of people suffering from alcoholism, as well as reduce morbimortality due to alcoholism.

Related: Laser brain stimulation reduces alcohol consumption in rats

Dr. Luis F. Callado, Dr. Benito Morentin, and Dr. Amaia Erdozain of UPV/EHU, together with Dr. Wayne G. Carter’s team from the University of Nottingham, analyzed the postmortem brains of 20 people diagnosed with alcohol abuse/dependence alongside another 20 non-alcoholic brains. Studying the prefrontal cortex, researchers detected alterations in the neuronal cytoskeleton in the brains of alcoholic patients; in concrete, in the α- and β-tubulin and the β II spectrin proteins. These changes in the neuronal structure, induced by ethanol ingestion, can affect the organization, the capacity for making connections, and the functioning of the neuronal network, and could largely explain alterations in cognitive behavior and in learning attributed to people suffering from alcoholism

Henry Sapiecha

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