A study performed in mice clues that moderate sums of alcohol may support brain health by reducing rednes and flushing away metabolic byproducts, including the protein plaques associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
“Prolonged intake of excessive quantities of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system, ” said leading writer Maiken Nedergaard, MD, DMSc, co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “However, in this study, we have shown for the first time that low dosages of alcohol are potentially beneficial to brain health, namely it improves the brain’s ability to remove waste.”
The research, published in Scientific Reports, unexpectedly demonstrated that alcoholic intake analogous to about 2.5 drinks a day boosts the productivity of the brain’s glymphatic system, a network of waste-clearing vessels within the organ’s tightly controlled liquid environment.
Prior to its discovery by Nedergaard and her colleagues in 2012, scientists did not fully understand how trash molecules that amass outside brain cells are transported out of the sealed-off tissue area, called parenchyma. We now know that well-hidden channels surrounding the brain’s blood vessels let exchange between the parenchyma and the cerebrospinal liquid( CSF) ventricles that is likely drain into the lymphatic boats of the head and neck.( Early investigations of the glymphatic system also revealed that it is most active during sleep, thus first identifying the crucial link between neurological health and adequate sleep hour .)
Following multiple findings that low-to-moderate drinking is actually associated with an increase in overall health and longevity, the Rochester team sought to examine what goes on in the glymphatic system after pandering in a tipple or two.
Their experiment involved getting mice drunk.
First, conscious mouse were injected with low( 0.5 g/ kg ), intermediate( 1.5 g/ kg ), or high dosages( 4 g/ kg) of ethanol- corresponding to about 44 milliliters( 1.4 ounces ), 133 ml( 4.5 oz ), or 354 ml( 12 oz) of pure alcohol for a 70 -kilogram( 154 -pound) human.
Subsequently, a tracer compound was administered into the brain so that the flow of CSF could be observed.
Roughly 45 minutes after receiving the alcohol, mouse in the low-dose group indicated an average 40 percentage increased number of glymphatic flowing, when compared to mouse given a non-alcoholic control liquid. In contrast, the mouse who were sloshed on intermediate and high doses displayed 34 percent and 28 percentage reductions in glymphatic function, respectively.
To get a sense of how regular drinking can impact our brain’s garbage-disposal ability, the authors gave a different define of mice the same doses every day for 30 days, then examined their brains. In this experiment, the low-dose mouse proved somewhat improved glymphatic circulation compared to controls, though certain differences was not as dramatic. These mice also displayed perfectly normal behavior and motor skills at all times.
As expected, the medium dose lessened functionality, this time by about 19 percentage. The writers did not assess a 30 -day high-dose group because such intense levels of alcohol might have messed the mice up so much that isolating the effects on one body system alone would have been impossible. Plus, “in our pilot study, chronic exposure to the high dosage of alcohol had a mortality rate of 40 percent, ” they wrote.
Now, before you sprint out the door to your nearest happy hour, bear in mind that this study was not designed to assess the long-term consequences of alcohol on brain health and that the outcomes may be different in people.
But, as too-good-to-be-true as it may sound, the results suggest that a glass of wine( or two) could be an excellent way to end the day.