Binge drinking teens may face higher anxiety risk later: Study

Binge drinking early in life modifies the brain and changes connectivity in the brain, especially in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional regulation and anxiety.

Published: 13th March 2019 06:22 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th March 2019 06:22 PM   |  A+A-

alcohol

For representational purposes.

By PTI

WASHINGTON DC: Binge drinking in adolescence, even if discontinued, may increase the risk for anxiety later in life, according to a study led by an Indian origin scientist.

"Binge drinking early in life modifies the brain and changes connectivity in the brain, especially in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional regulation and anxiety, in ways we don't totally understand yet," said Subhash Pandey, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the US, and lead author of the study.

"But what we do know is that epigenetic changes are lasting, and increase susceptibility to psychological issues later in life, even if drinking that took place early in life is stopped," Pandey said in a statement.

"Epigenetics" refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA, or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves, according to the study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Epigenetic alterations are required for the normal development of the brain, but they can be modified in response to environmental or even social factors, such as alcohol and stress.

These kinds of epigenetic alterations have been linked to changes in behaviour and disease, researchers said.

Adolescent rats were exposed to ethanol (a type of alcohol) for two days on and two days off or to the same protocol using saline for 14 days.

All rats underwent an assessment for anxiety.

Pandey and his colleagues exposed adolescent rats to a regimen designed to mimic binge drinking.

Those rats exhibited anxious behaviour later in life, even if the binge drinking regimen stopped in late adolescence and the rats were allowed to mature to adulthood without any further exposure to alcohol.

These rats also had lower levels of a protein called Arc in the amygdala.

Arc is important for the normal development of synaptic connections in the brain.

Rats with less Arc also had about 40 per cent fewer neuronal connections in the amygdala compared with rats that were not exposed to alcohol.

"We believe that the decrease in Arc levels is caused by epigenetic changes that alter the expression of Arc, and an enhancer RNA, which modifies the expression of Arc. These changes are caused by adolescent alcohol exposure," said Pandey.

Stay up to date on all the latest Health news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp