summary: Mice treated with probiotics recovered from exposure to alcohol and experienced fewer health effects than those not treated with probiotics.

source: American Society for Microbiology

Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to a painful hangover and associated headaches, fatigue and nausea. Drinking alcohol has also been linked to a wide range of health problems in the human body, including heart disease, cirrhosis, and immune deficiencies.

One way to avoid these consequences is to drink less, but researchers in China have introduced another way to alleviate hangovers and other negative outcomes – a genetically modified probiotic.

In a paper published this week in Spectrum Microbiologythe researchers describe their approach and report that in experiments with mice, the treatment reduced alcohol absorption, prolonged alcohol tolerance, and shortened the animals’ recovery time after exposure to alcohol.

The probiotic has not yet been tested in humans, but the authors speculate that if it offers the same benefits, it may offer a new way to reduce health problems caused by alcohol, and liver problems in general.

Meng Dong, PhD, at the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who worked on the study, noted that the clinical applications may extend well beyond alcohol-related conditions. “We believe that transgenic probiotics will provide new ideas for treating liver disease,” she said.

The human body primarily uses forms of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, or ADH, to metabolize alcohol. But some variants are more potent than others: Some studies have found that a form called ADH1B, found primarily in East Asian and Polynesian populations, is up to 100 times more active than other variants.

Previous studies in mice have shown that viral vectors genetically engineered to express ADH1B can speed up the breakdown of alcohol, but this approach has not been shown to be safe in humans.

Motivated by these findings, Dong and her colleagues looked for a safer delivery method, focusing on Lactococcus lactis, a bacterium often used in fermentation. They used molecular cloning to insert the human ADH1B gene into a bacterial plasmid, which was then introduced into the L. lactis strain.

Laboratory tests confirmed that the probiotic secreted the enzyme. The researchers encapsulated the probiotic to ensure it would survive against stomach acid, then tested it on 3 groups of 5 mice, each exposed to different levels of alcohol.

The untreated mice showed signs of drunkenness after 20 minutes of alcohol exposure. When the rats were placed on their backs, for example, they were never able to get back on their feet.

This indicates a drink
An enzyme called ADH1B speeds up the breakdown of alcohol in the body. The image is in the public domain

But in the group that received a probiotic that showed human ADH1B, half of the mice were still able to transform themselves an hour after exposure to alcohol. A quarter of them have never lost their ability to turn themselves in.

Further tests showed that two hours after exposure, blood alcohol levels in the control group continued to rise, while those in the probiotic-treated mice began to decrease. In addition, the researchers found that the treated mice showed lower levels of fats and triglycerides in their livers, suggesting that probiotics could mitigate alcohol-related damage to this organ.

The next step, Dong said, is to investigate whether the potential therapeutic effect of modified probiotics extends to humans.

“We are excited to improve recombinant probiotics in acute alcohol-induced liver and intestinal damage,” Dong said.

About this alcohol and pharmacy research news

author: Joanna Urban
source: American Society for Microbiology
communication: Joanna Urban – American Society for Microbiology
picture: The image is in the public domain

Original search: Results will appear in Spectrum Microbiology

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