Female alcoholism may be associated with estrogen levels, American scientists have found. At high estrogen concentrations, the brain more actively produces a dopamine neurotransmitter in response to ethanol. Which is associated with a sense of pleasure. Attention to this factor may make the treatment of female alcoholism more effective, scientists say.
Scientists have come close to solving the problem of female alcoholism. A high level of estrogen can make drinking more enjoyable. This conclusion was reached by the specialists of the University of Illinois at Chicago, an article devoted to this was published in the journal Journal of Neuroscience. “Taskboot” figured out the details of the study.
The neurotransmitter dopamine is one of the chemical factors of internal reinforcement. It serves as an important part of the “reward system” of the brain. It is causing a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure. It is produced in large quantities during a subjectively pleasant experience. For example, eating delicious food or sex.
However, narcotic substances, including alcohol, “crack” the reward system, forcing dopamine to be produced without any external stimuli that could be beneficial.
Scientists have previously noted that increasing estrogen levels in female mice increases the sensitivity of dopamine neurons to ethanol excitation, but the details of this relationship were not clear. In new work, researchers used brain tissue of dead female mice in different phases of the reproductive cycle. In some, estrogen was increased, and in some, it was reduced. Scientists activated estrogen receptors and monitored the reaction of dopamine neurons to alcohol.
“We found that when one estrogen receptor, the alpha receptor, was activated, dopamine neurons responded to alcohol more actively,” says biologist and psychiatrist Amy Lasek. “Also, the effect was stronger in tissues taken from mice in highly estrogenic phases.”
An increase in the activity of dopamine neurons can lead to a more pleasant sensation from drinking alcohol, Lasek explains.
“More pleasure can lead to alcohol abuse, in particular, hard-drinking,” she warns.
In another experiment, the researchers blocked the estrogen receptor in the ventral region of the tire where the dopamine pathway started. The ventral area of the tire (part of the midbrain) is particularly associated with drug addiction. The researchers observed how men and men responded to this change after exposure to alcohol.
It turns out that a reduction in the number of estrogen receptors (such as alpha receptors) leads to a decrease in interest in alcohol, but only women.
Lasek said: “This new finding shows that in the ventral area of the tire, estrogen receptors may play a specific role in drinking alcohol.” “As we learn more about estrogen in enhancing the brain’s sensitivity to alcohol Function, we will be able to develop more professional treatments for alcohol-related diseases, and we will also be able to better inform women about changes in alcohol use. They are affected at different stages of the menstrual cycle.
Although men are several times more likely to suffer from alcoholism than women and drink more alcohol overall, studies have shown that women transition from excessive drinking to alcoholism more quickly. Alcohol addiction can increase the risk of cancer, damage the liver, brain, and other organs, and develop cardiovascular disease.
Lasek hopes that taking into account gender differences in the fight against alcoholism, more effective treatment can be taken.
Earlier, an international team of scientists collaborated with Russian colleagues to conclude that alcoholism may be caused by an unbalanced work of dopamine.
Scientists emphasized: “Alcohol changes the activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex and the characteristics of dopaminergic neurons themselves.”
According to this study, alcohol disrupts the balance and properties of dopamine-producing neurons. The formation of large amounts of dopamine forms the consolidation of certain habits. In particular, as a result, drinking habits are deeply ingrained in the brain.