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Researchers Discover 'Drinking Gene'

Researchers Discover 'Drinking Gene'


By    |   Wednesday, 30 November 2016 09:07 AM

If you've ever wondered why some people can have a drink and be happy while others seem determined to go nonstop, doctors think there's a gene for that.

The gene is dubbed beta-Klotho, and it seems to put the brakes on binging. Researchers found that mice engineered without this gene drink much more than mice that have it. Humans have the same gene. "There was a clear variation in this one gene in the people that liked to drink more versus less," Dr. David Mangelsdorf of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, told NBCNews.com.

Mangelsdorf and his team examined the records of more than 100,000 people of European descent, and they found people with one version of beta-Klotho reported they drink less on average. Those who drank less had a different variation of the gene, the minute difference being a "single-nucleotide polymorphism" or SNP. About 42 percent of the people in the study had the low-drinking version of the gene.

"There is no drug available that suppresses the desire to drink alcohol. Nothing," Mangelsdorf told NBC. Mangelsdorf and his researchers published their report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

The University of Texas team set out to determine if there is a gene for controlled drinking and they worked with other research teams in the United States, Europe, and China. They screened genes in people to see if they could associate them with behavior. They think they found such a link with beta-Klotho. The gene acts in unison with two other genes called FGF21 and FGF19. Together they control hormones that are associated with alcohol and sugary cravings — another area for research. "FGF21 is part of a liver-brain feedback loop that limits the consumption of simple sugars," the team wrote.

Tests in mice showed that when they did not have beta-Klotho, they strongly preferred water laced with alcohol to plain water, even when dosed with FGF21 hormone. Monkeys given FGF21 hormone crave sweet drinks less, Mangelsdorf said. "We think it's through the same mechanism as the desire to drink alcohol. Our results suggest that this pathway could be targeted pharmacologically for reducing the desire for alcohol."

"The current study suggests that the FGF21-beta-Klotho pathway regulates alcohol consumption in humans and seems to point to a mechanism that we might be able to influence in order to reduce alcohol intake," Mangelsdorf added in a statement. "This is a hormone with some remarkable pharmacologic effects." Mangelsdorf's researchers are also working to develop the hormone as a treatment for obesity and other conditions.


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If you've ever wondered why some people can have a drink and be happy, while others seem determined to go nonstop, doctors think there's a gene for that.
alcohol, drinking, binge
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 09:07 AM
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