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Study compares alcohol effects on males and females — Analysis

New research has revealed that alcohol can have different effects on brain activity in male mice than female mice. This is due to males being more susceptible to emotional and behavioral changes.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal eNeuro on Monday. It found that alcohol can alter activity in the brain region known as the Basolateral Amygdala (BLA). This is often responsible for mood disorders such as fear and anxiety in humans and mice. The researchers demonstrated that “Acute and frequent alcohol exposure can cause network oscillations. This is a change in synchronized brain activity which affects mood, behavior and mood. It’s a problem that the BLA controls the behavioral expressions of fear and anxiety..”

“Further, we demonstrate sex differences in alcohol’s ability to modulate BLA network states,”According to scientists from Tufts University, Boston,

Researchers administered alcohol to mice, and then analyzed oscillatory state changes in the amygdala. It was evident that there were differences in the effects between males and females, particularly after multiple alcohol intakes. The oscillatory state of females was not affected – despite their brain activity still changing under the influence of alcohol – while males were clearly impacted and demonstrated behavioral changes. 

According to the researchers, this is due to a subunit that contains a GABAA-receptor. This receptor is sensitive to both alcohol and anxiety as well as to hormone modulation by ovarian steroidhormones.

In fact, the researchers repeated the experiment with male mice that had the same subunit as the females and they responded similarly to alcohol.

While more research is necessary to evaluate certain other factors, such as sensitivity or tolerance to alcohol, the authors believe the study potentially points to “a novel mechanism mediating the effects of alcohol on affective states.”

This publication was published less than one year after another University of Arizona study that found women more likely to drink excessively due to stress. The scientists also claimed that women are more susceptible to alcohol-related illnesses.

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