A recent study showed that a stomach-produced hormone that influences the desire to eat and consume alcohol could be switched off to control drinking problems.
The study, was carried out by Jerlhag et al. at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. It showed that the hormone ghrelin, typically released by the stomach and known to promote appetite and therefore the intake of food, also influences the consumption of alcohol.
The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that mice injected with ghrelin and then given the choice of alcohol or water to drink, were more likely to choose alcohol. At the same time, mice treated with ghrelin antagonists, as well as knockout mice (mice with the hormone's receptor removed), proved resistant to the effects of alcohol.
Faculty of 1000 Biology reviewer Kent Berridge of the University of Michigan in the US says the ghrelin-injected mice showed more than a typical appetite for calories in choosing alcohol and the findings might influence treatment strategies for alcoholism.
"These results seem to suggest a role for the effects of ghrelin on the brain in the motivation for alcohol consumption," said Berridge. - (EurekAlert!, December 2009)