Thursday, May 21, 2015

Teen Drinking Linked to Brain Changes

All of the participants had an MRI scan two to six times between the ages of 12 and 24 and were followed for up to 8 years, the investigators reported.

Over time, neocortical gray matter decreased in all participants, they found, but was significantly greater in the drinkers, especially in the frontal, lateral frontal, and temporal cortices (at P=0.019, P=0.013, and P=0.001, respectively.)

Similarly, white matter regions grew in volume in both groups, but growth was attenuated in the heavy drinkers compared with the nondrinkers in the pons and the corpus callosum (at P=0.001 and P<0.001, respectively.)

Squeglia LM, Tapert SF, Sullivan EV, Jacobus J, Meloy MJ, Rohlfing T,
Pfefferbaum A. Brain Development in Heavy-Drinking Adolescents. Am J Psychiatry.
2015 May 18: [Epub ahead of print]


  1. An epigenetic marker associated with alcohol consumption and its underlying neurobehavioral phenotype

    The genetic component of alcohol use disorder is substantial, but monozygotic twin discordance indicates a role for nonheritable differences that could be mediated by epigenetics. Despite growing evidence associating epigenetics and psychiatric disorders, it is unclear how epigenetics, particularly DNA methylation, relate to brain function and behavior, including drinking behavior.
    The authors carried out a genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation of 18 monozygotic twin pairs discordant for alcohol use disorder and validated differentially methylated regions. After validation, the authors characterized these differentially methylated regions using personality trait assessment and functional MRI in a sample of 499 adolescents.
    Hypermethylation in the 3′-protein-phosphatase-1G (PPM1G) gene locus was associated with alcohol use disorder. The authors found association of PPM1G hypermethylation with early escalation of alcohol use and increased impulsiveness. They also observed association of PPM1G hypermethylation with increased blood-oxygen-level-dependent response in the right subthalamic nucleus during an impulsiveness task.
    Overall, the authors provide first evidence for an epigenetic marker associated with alcohol consumption and its underlying neurobehavioral phenotype.

    Ruggeri B, Nymberg C, Vuoksimaa E, Lourdusamy A, Wong CP, Carvalho FM, Jia T, Cattrell A, Macare C, Banaschewski T, Barker GJ, Bokde AL, Bromberg U, Büchel C, Conrod PJ, Fauth-Bühler M, Flor H, Frouin V, Gallinat J, Garavan H, Gowland P, Heinz A, Ittermann B, Martinot JL, Nees F, Pausova Z, Paus T, Rietschel M, Robbins T, Smolka MN, Spanagel R, Bakalkin G, Mill J, Sommer WH, Rose RJ, Yan J, Aliev F, Dick D, Kaprio J, Desrivières S, Schumann G; IMAGEN Consortium. Association of Protein Phosphatase PPM1G With Alcohol Use Disorder and Brain Activity During Behavioral Control in a Genome-Wide Methylation Analysis. Am J Psychiatry. 2015 May 18:[Epub ahead of print]

  2. Lower levels of youth drinking and binge drinking were associated with more stringent policies on alcohol, according to a longitudinal study that combined data from Youth Risk Behavior Surveys with an independent examination of state-level alcohol policies...

    In a separate interview with MedPage Today, co-author Timothy Naimi MD, MPH, associate professor, Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, pointed out that alcohol contributes to three of the four leading causes of death among adolescents (unintentional injuries, homicides, and suicides), and that while people tend to think of ways to reduce youth drinking, they tend to think about educational interventions as opposed to shifts in policy.

    "There's never been a comprehensive study on the effects of alcohol policies across the 50 states and what kind of impact alcohol policies have as a group," he said. "And because our research team developed the first sort of scale of the strength of alcohol policies based on the 50 states, we wanted to see how that related to underaged drinking."


    Ziming Xuan, ScD, SM, MA, Jason G. Blanchette, MPH, Toben F. Nelson, ScD
    Thien H. Nguyen, MPH, Scott E. Hadland, MD, MPH, Nadia L. Oussayef, JD, MPH, Timothy C. Heeren, PhD, Timothy S. Naimi, MD, MPH.
    Youth Drinking in the United States: Relationships With Alcohol Policies and Adult Drinking. Pediatrics. Published online June 1, 2015 (doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-0537)

  3. A new government report found that both drinking and binge drinking among young people fell significantly between 2002 and 2013.

    The percentage of underage people who drank declined from 28.8 percent to 22.7 percent. The proportion of binge drinkers — people who consumed five or more drinks during one occasion — decreased from 19.3 percent to 14.2 percent, according to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    The study is the latest evidence that alcohol might be losing some of its allure for underage youth, defined in the study as 12 to 20 years old.

    Based on the survey, which involved more than 30,000 people in that age group across the country, there are about 8.7 million underage drinkers in the United States, and about 5.4 million were binge drinkers.