A recent study conducted by Dr. Leigh Walker at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health has shed light on the differences in alcohol consumption between males and females. The research focused on the role of a neuropeptide called CART in influencing alcohol preference and intake in mice.
Dr. Walker’s findings showed that inhibiting CART in male mice led to increased alcohol consumption, while knocking out the same neuropeptide in female mice resulted in decreased drinking. However, when the alcoholic drinks were sweetened, female mice consumed more alcohol, indicating that the taste of alcohol plays a significant role in driving alcohol preference and intake.
This research is groundbreaking because it challenges the prevailing focus on studying male brains in the context of alcohol use disorders. By examining how female brains differ in response to taste, the study opens up opportunities for developing targeted treatments to help women curb excessive alcohol use and address the rising rates of alcohol-related disorders in women.
Alcohol use is a significant global health concern, contributing to millions of deaths annually and accounting for a significant disease burden worldwide. The rates of risky drinking and alcohol use disorders are rising in women at a faster pace than in men, emphasizing the need for gender-specific approaches to addressing alcohol-related issues.
Looking ahead, Dr. Walker suggests that further research targeting the CART neuropeptide system could lead to the development of interventions aimed at helping women with alcohol use disorders. Additionally, gaining a better understanding of the differences between male and female brains could pave the way for unprecedented advancements in treating brain disorders in women.
Xavier J. Maddern et al, Cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript (CART) mediates sex differences in binge drinking through central taste circuits, Neuropsychopharmacology (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41386-023-01712-2
Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health – Provided by Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health