Maternal Cytokine Balance May Play Role in FASD Risk

A study done in conjunction with the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD), which is supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, reports that disruptions in levels of certain immune system molecules during pregnancy can alter the risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The effects of alcohol consumption on the … Read more

Researchers identify key brain circuits for reward-seeking and avoidance behavior

microscopy image of a rodent brain cross-section; pathways in the extended amygdala related to reward-seeking and aversion are labeled in fluorescent green

Previously unrecognized pathways in mice have relevance for mental health and addiction research Researchers have identified connections between neurons in brain systems associated with reward, stress, and emotion. Conducted in mice, the new study may help untangle multiple psychiatric conditions, including alcohol use disorder, anxiety disorders, insomnia, and depression in humans. “Understanding these intricate brain … Read more

Steep Increase in Rate of Alcohol-Related Emergency Department Visits

Picture of Ambulance

The rate of alcohol-related visits to U.S. emergency departments (EDs) increased by nearly 50 percent between 2006 and 2014, especially among females and drinkers who are middle-aged or older, according to a new study conducted by NIAAA researchers. “In just 9 years, the number of people transported to the ED annually for medical emergencies caused … Read more

Hunger Hormone Affects Alcohol Intake

X-ray of human body

A new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) provides further evidence that a hormone produced in the stomach influences alcohol consumption in humans. As reported in Molecular Psychiatry, researchers led by Lorenzo Leggio, M.D., Ph.D., demonstrated that the hormone, called ghrelin, may be a promising target for developing … Read more

MicroRNAs May Have Therapeutic Potential for Alcohol-Induced Liver Injury

Picture of DNA strand

MicroRNAs, or miRNAs, are short strands of RNA that play important roles in gene regulation. In two recent studies, researchers supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) identified two miRNAs that may help protect against alcohol-induced liver injury. Paramananda Saikia, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic, in studies conducted in … Read more

Brain Studies Point to Perils of Adolescent Alcohol Use

Image of a brain

The brain takes longer to develop and mature than any other organ in the body. Beginning in the third week of gestation and extending into the mid-20s, an ongoing interplay of genetic and environmental factors results in the mature human brain, a structure composed of more than 100 billion neurons. Some of the most rapid … Read more