Linkage Projects 2020 Round 3 Announcement Banner

Immune system linked to alcohol drinking behaviour

Immune system linked to alcohol drinking behaviour

Image: Red wine closeup in glass. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics at The University of Adelaide have found a new link between the brain's immune system and the desire to drink alcohol in the evening.

In laboratory studies using mice, researchers have been able to switch off the impulse to drink alcohol by giving mice a drug that blocks a specific response from the immune system in the brain.

Now published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, this research is one of the first of its kind to show a link between the brain’s immunity and the motivation to drink alcohol at night.

Senior author Professor Mark Hutchinson, Director of the Centre and leader of the Neuroimmunopharmacology lab in which this work was conducted, says these findings point to the need for further research to understand the implications for drinking behaviour in humans:

"Our study is part of an emerging field which highlights the importance of the brain’s immune system in the desire to drink alcohol. Given the drinking culture that exists in many nations around the world, including Australia, with associated addiction to alcohol and related health and societal issues, we hope our findings will lead to further studies."

The research was funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Media issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics.

Back to top