Link Between Alcoholic Cirrhosis & Brain Damage

Study Sees Link Between Alcoholic Cirrhosis, Brain Damage

People with alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver suffer more drinking-related brain damage that alcoholics who don’t have cirrhosis, researchers say.

Science Daily reported Aug. 29 that researchers drew their conclusions from examination of gene expression in brain tissue samples.

“Cirrhotic patients [have] dysfunctional livers that cannot remove poisons from the blood stream,” said Dayne Mayfield, research scientist at the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research at The University of Texas at Austin. “These poisons are able to move into the brain and disrupt normal function.”

Among those disruptions appears to be changes in the regulation of genes in the brain. “We found that the levels of many important brain genes changed in the cirrhotic patients,” said Mayfield. “These genes are important in regulating cell death and how individual cells in the brain talk to each other in a meaningful way.”

Out of 1,125 genes, 482 genes showed increased expression and 643 genes showed reduced expression in the cirrhotic individuals, said John H. Krystal, a professor of clinical pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. “With the levels of so many genes changing, this study suggests widespread effects in many cellular pathways related to cirrhosis in the alcoholic group.”

The study appears in the September 2007 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Research Reference: Liu, J., Lewohl, J.M., Harris, R.A., Dodd, P.R., Mayfield, R.D. (2007) Altered Gene Expression Profiles in the Frontal Cortex of Cirrhotic Alcoholics. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 31(9): 1460-1466.

From; Join Together Online

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