Friday, April 18, 2008

alcoholism connected to epigenetics

Epigenetics gets real!!!

A group from Chicago published a paper two weeks ago connecting chromatin remodeling (epigenetics) in brain to alcoholism. It is exciting because this is for the first clear evidence, as far as I know, humans' everyday activity could affect epigenetics.

Using laboratory rats as model, they found that acute anti-anxiety effects of alcohol are mediated by reduced histone (H3 and H4) acetylation in the amygdala region of the brain. What's more interesting is that increased anxiety accompanied with withdrawal from alcohol dependence is caused by a further increase in this process (acetylation). Neuropeptide Y, a known protein and mediator of anti-anxiety, is a potential target of the transcriptional regulation associated with this epigenetic mechanism. Inhibition of this process could indeed prevent anxiety. These data could potentially explain a lot of symptoms related to alcoholism and withdrawal anxiety. The clinical significance will have to be proved by further study.

When you drink next time, remind yourself that you are modifying your epigenome!


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