Blood pressure drug could help problem drinkers: QUT research

December 11, 2019

A drug used to treat high blood pressure may alleviate anxiety induced by long-term heavy alcohol use, and also halt the damage such drinking can cause to the brain's ability to grow new cells, research at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) shows.

The findings, from a study conducted in adult mice, have been published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Principal investigator and QUT neuroscientist, Professor Selena Bartlett, said the results add further evidence that the drug, pindolol, could be beneficial in treating alcohol use disorders.

"This is a drug that is inexpensive and already available in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia," she said. "It's a beta-blocker that is prescribed for high blood pressure, angina and heart arrhythmias.

"We have been studying it for a number of years and have already shown in animal modelsthat it reduces alcohol intake when there is long-term consumption.

"In this latest study, we investigated the drug's effect on other alcohol associated issues - anxiety and neurogenesis.

"Long-term and heavy drinking can cause anxiety disorders, and people's anxiety can worsen when alcohol is withdrawn, and alcohol abuse can also reduce neurogenesis, which is the process by which new neurons (cells) are formed in the brain.

"We showed that pindolol reduced alcohol-associated anxiety-like behaviour in mice and also alleviated the damaging effects of alcohol consumption on newly formed and immature brain cells."

Professor Bartlett said repurposing drugs like pindolol was a way to fast-track new treatments to manage alcohol dependence, binge-drinking and addiction, which are significant and complex problems both in Australia and globally. The costs to society of alcohol-related problems in Australia in 2010 was estimated at more than $14 billion, including costs to the health system and lost productivity.

"The next step is to conduct clinical trials with pindolol and we have started discussions with a medical specialist to progress that," Professor Bartlett said.

Co-investigators with Professor Bartlett in the study are QUT postdoctoral research fellow Dr Arnauld Belmer, Dr Omkar Patkar (previously a QUT research fellow), QUT PhD researcher Kate Beecher, and Dr Angela Jacques, who recently completed her PhD.

Key study findings:
-end-
The full study, Pindolol Rescues Anxiety-Like Behavior and Neurogenic Maladaptations of Long-Term Binge Alcohol Intake in Mice, can be accessed here.

Professor Bartlett is leader of the QUT Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation Addiction Neuroscience and Obesity group and is based at the Translational Research Institute.

She is the recipient of the Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS) Medallion for her contributions to neuroscience as the Lawrie Austin Plenary lecturer at the 2019 ANS conference in Adelaide. She also delivered a public lecture during the conference on developing brain resilience to improve health, fitness and addiction.

Queensland University of Technology

Related Alcohol Consumption Articles from Brightsurf:

Excessive alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic
The full impact of COVID-19 on alcohol use is not yet known, but rates have been rising during the first few months of the pandemic.

Alcohol consumption rises sharply during pandemic shutdown
Anecdotal information has suggested that people are buying and consuming more alcohol during the pandemic shutdown.

Associations of alcohol consumption, alcohol-induced passing out with risk of dementia
The risk of future dementia associated with overall alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced loss of consciousness in a population of current drinkers was examined in this observational study with more than 131,000 adults.

Sweet coolers a gateway to increased alcohol consumption
Sweetened alcoholic beverages can promote harmful alcohol consumption among teens, new University of Guelph research finds.

The influence of alcohol consumption among cohabitating partners
Research has linked a partner's or spouse's drinking with changes in alcohol-related behaviors, but few studies have considered only cohabiting relationships.

Does alcohol consumption have an effect on arthritis?
Several previous studies have demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption is linked with less severe disease and better quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but a new Arthritis Care & Research study suggests that this might not be because drinking alcohol is beneficial.

Is alcohol consumption more helpful than harmful? It depends on your age
Studies of health effects of alcohol consumption may underestimate the risks of imbibing, particularly for younger people, according to a new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer ignored by women most at risk
Middle aged women in Australia aren't getting the message about the proven link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer, at a time when more are drinking while cancer rates in their age bracket are increasing, according to a new study.

How much is too much? Even moderate alcohol consumption is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation
Excessive alcohol consumption is an established risk factor for atrial fibrillation (AF), but what are the effects of moderate and mild consumption on AF?

Moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with fewer hospitalizations
A study of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of I.R.C.C.S.

Read More: Alcohol Consumption News and Alcohol Consumption Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.