Source: Tel Aviv University
Summary: Researchers in a new study found that exposure to nicotine during adolescence can lead to increased alcohol intake in adulthood.
The link between nicotine and alcohol consumption is long known. But the nature of the connection – how long it lasts – which begets which – still remains a mystery. Researchers from Tel Aviv University in a new study found that exposure to nicotine during adolescence can lead to increased alcohol intake in adulthood. This study suggests that memories of a teenager (who smokes tobacco) alter the brain’s reaction to alcohol even after a prolonged withdrawal of nicotine. And also indicated that these “nicotine memories” may even be responsible for heavier drinking later in life. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
A short exposure to nicotine environment triggered a robust decrease in the GDNF (Glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor) growth factor expression of brain’s pleasure center. Researchers have previously shown that GDNF acts a regulator of alcohol consumption in the brain. They assumed that this drop GDNF following the retrieval of nicotine memories leads to loss of control which in turn boosts alcohol consumption. Rat models were used to test the link between nicotine and alcohol consumption. Rats which received nicotine during their adolescence consumed more amount of alcohol. The research team is currently studying the specific changes to the brain caused by nicotine memories.
Dr. Segev Barak said, “If we can prevent these brain changes, we hope we can prevent the long-term increase in alcohol consumption”, “It will also teach us a lot about the brain mechanisms that lead to alcoholism.”
More Information: Dor Zipori et al, “Re-exposure to nicotine-associated context from adolescence enhances alcohol intake in adulthood”, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-02177-2