Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Both Alcoholism And Chronic Smoking Can Damage The Brain's Prefrontal Cortex

Date:
April 24, 2006
Source:
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
Summary:
A study in the current journal issue reveals alcoholism commonly co-occurs with chronic smoking; both alcohol and nicotine act on the brain's "drug-reward pathway" or mesocorticolimbic system; and new findings indicate that alcoholism and chronic smoking have a higher number of common genetic targets than previously believed.

Alcoholism is commonly associated with chronic smoking, and both alcohol and nicotine are believed to act on the same brain region. A study in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research builds upon previous research that identified four potential alcohol-sensitive genes in the prefrontal cortex, finding that smoking also influences the expression of these genes.

Related Articles


"Nicotine and alcohol are both addictive drugs," said Traute Flatscher-Bader, a postdoctoral research officer at the Alcohol Research Unit of the University of Queensland, Brisbane and corresponding author for the study. "They act on the same brain region, the 'drug reward pathway' or mesocorticolimbic system (MDS). The MDS contains the 'feel-good' neurotransmitter dopamine. Acute nicotine and alcohol cause an imbalance within the MDS by artificially increasing dopamine levels through direct and/or indirect modulation of dopaminergic neurons. While the long-term effect of alcoholism on the human brain has been investigated, surprisingly little is known about the long-term effect of nicotine on specific regions of the drug reward pathway in the human brain."

"Studies into the molecular changes that alcohol and smoking have on the body and particularly the brain are crucial for understanding the disease state," said Nikki Zuvela, a doctoral student in molecular neuroscience at The University of Queensland. "There are actual molecular changes to parts of the brain involved in developing addiction; most importantly, within those centres known to mediate desire, craving, pleasure, self control, decision making, fear and emotion."

All of our cells have exactly the same deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which means they all have the same genes. Different cells can appear and work so differently with the same genes (giving us, for example, unique eyes, skin, hair, etc.) because only some genes are used or 'turned on' in each cell. This is called gene expression. The sequence of events is for DNA, or genes, to make ribonucleic acid (RNA), also called a 'message,' which is then used to make proteins. These proteins determine the appearance and function of each cell and, in turn, the proteins' existence depends on gene expression. Thus, gene expression is a normal function of all cells and is well regulated by the body to avoid mistakes.

Zuvela's expertise lays in the examination of changes to gene expression caused by consumption and abuse of alcohol and nicotine. "Some of these changes manifest in alterations to the most important and elemental system we have: the neurotransmitters of the brain which relay messages and information to every part of our brain and body," she said. "Changes to the release or reception of neurotransmitters effect downstream functioning of these centres and, as such, play an important role in the development of addiction and tolerance, craving and loss of impulse control witnessed in so many drug-affected states. It also helps to understand on a physiological and molecular level why the behaviour may be difficult to stop, despite knowledge of negative consequences."

For this study, researchers classified post-mortem brain samples (n=30) into four groups: nonsmoker, nonalcoholic; nonsmoker, alcoholic; smoker, alcoholic; and smoker, nonalcoholic. All of the brain-tissue samples were measured for mRNA expression of four genes or proteins previously identified as potentially alcohol sensitive: apolipoprotein D (ApoD), involved in the transport of small lipids; metalloproteinase inhibitor, member 3 (TIMP3), a secreted protein that associates closely with the extracellular matrix; glial high affinity glutamate transporter (GLAST1), a membrane protein that is vital for the removal of glutamate from the synaptic cleft terminating excitatory neurotransmission; and midkine (MDK), generally neuroprotective.

"Alcoholism and nicotine appear to have a higher number of genetic targets in common than previously expected," said Flatscher-Bader. "While we know that alcoholism has a drastic effect on the prefrontal cortex, this study indicates that -- while not as dramatic -- the effect of chronic smoking on the prefrontal cortex may be stronger than previously expected. The study also indicates that the combination of smoking and drinking may aggravate the negative long-term effects of either drug on the human brain."

"Future research of these dual effects in other brain regions may eventually lead to therapeutic solutions, gene therapy, or pharmaceuticals which may help decrease or reverse these effects," said Zuvela, "ultimately helping people to stop drinking or stop smoking before it eventually impacts on their health. Hopefully this research will also help people realize that these addictions are physical diseases and that quitting is not as simple as being strong, because physical changes to basic systems underlay these states."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Both Alcoholism And Chronic Smoking Can Damage The Brain's Prefrontal Cortex." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060423222638.htm>.
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. (2006, April 24). Both Alcoholism And Chronic Smoking Can Damage The Brain's Prefrontal Cortex. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060423222638.htm
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Both Alcoholism And Chronic Smoking Can Damage The Brain's Prefrontal Cortex." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060423222638.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins