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Heavy Drinkers May Be Rewarded By Enhanced Brain Acetate Metabolism

In addition to its well-known effects on the CNS, has a significant impact on metabolism. After consumption, the body rapidly begins converting ethanol to , which can serve as an energy source for the brain and other organs.

Lihong Jiang and colleagues at Yale University used a brain imaging technique, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, to track acetate uptake and metabolism in the brains of (consumed at least 8 drinks/week) and light drinkers (consumed less than 2 drinks/week).

In this issue of the , they report that heavy drinkers had greater, more rapid acetate uptake and metabolism compared to light drinkers. Because can cause acute drops in blood glucose levels, acetate has the potential to provide a compensatory energetic reward. Additionally, acetate metabolism produces adenosine, which has a sedating effect similar to alcohol. These findings suggest that the provision of acetate and/or enhancement of adenosine during alcohol detoxification could help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

TITLE: Increased brain uptake and oxidation of acetate in heavy drinkers



Journal of Clinical Investigation