‘Hangover gene' is key to alcohol tolerance
By Gaia Vince from www.NewScientist.com
A gene that helps fruit flies develop alcohol tolerance has been found – and named “hangover”. The gene also controls the flies' response to stress, and the researchers say that a similar pathway linking alcohol tolerance and stress probably functions in humans.
The findings may explain why people who have been in a stressful situation often have a blunted response to alcohol and may need to drink more to feel inebriated, experts say, putting them at greater risk of becoming addicted.
Ulrike Heberlein at the University of California at San Francisco , US , and Henrike Scholz from the University of Wurzburg in Germany , exposed fruit flies to ethanol vapour. Intoxicated fruit flies show similar behaviour to tipsy humans: they lack coordination and postural control and then fall asleep. It took the flies an average of 20 minutes to recover following their exposure.
After four hours on the wagon, the same Drosophila were again exposed to alcohol. By now, they had developed a tolerance to alcohol and so needed more to reach the same drunkenness, and took longer to “dry out” - 28 minutes.
But flies with a defective form of the hangover gene still took 20 minutes to recover from inebriation time after time - never building up a tolerance.
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