American neuroscientists have identified the mechanism contributing to addiction and relapse in alcoholics abstaining for several years. It turned out that a large number of the drunk alcohol changes the behaviour reward system in the brain of animals. About it reported in a press release on MedicalXpress.
In the study, experts used fruit flies as an animal model of alcoholism. They trained the insects to find alcohol, and then was turned off a variety of genes that could be involved in the formation of dependence on alcohol. It turned out that one of these genes encodes a protein Notch, which plays a key role in Drosophila development, its nervous system. This compound is found in the cells of the body and other animals.
It is known that Notch is a component of an extensive signaling network, which also includes D2-like receptor — a protein that recognizes the neurotransmitter dopamine. The latter is a factor of internal reinforcement, causes a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. He leads to the formation of craving for alcohol. However, the effects of alcohol on Notch did not cause changes in the amount of D-2-like receptor and lead to the replacement of one amino acid in a protein sequence.
According to scientists, if the same mechanism is available to people, three glasses of wine with an hour break in between cause long-term changes in the biochemistry of the brain, which do not pass through 24 hours. Thus, replacement of the receptor plays a key role in the development of alcohol and possibly other addictions.
Video, photo All from Russia.