Study finds molecular link between adolescent alcohol use and adult anxiety
Early alcohol use is strongly linked to anxiety issues and new research in rats may show how those connections are formed in the brain. Scientists studied the epigenetics that affect an important protein in the amygdala, part of the brain linked to anxiety and alcohol misuse. They exposed rats to early alcohol and found that rats had more anxiety and different epigenome expression than non-exposed rats. Both the anxiety and gene expression were lessened by giving the rat alcohol, providing further evidence for the relationship. This research provides more understanding of the molecular process that leads to both anxiety and alcohol use and provides targets for future research in animal models. The study, “Adolescent alcohol exposure epigenetically suppresses amygdala Arc enhancer RNA expression to confer adult anxiety susceptibility,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and was published in the journal, Biological Psychiatry.