Link between alcohol consumption and muscle damage in females

December 1, 2003 (Bethesda, MD) A common manifestation of alcoholism is the degeneration, or wasting away, of skeletal muscle. The condition, known as alcoholic myopathy, affects up to two-thirds of those who excessively consume alcohol; moreover, women appear to be particularly susceptible. The dominant features of this disorder are cramps, impaired muscle strength, and reduced whole body lean tissue mass, all of which are accompanied by reductions in the relative amounts of specific contractile proteins within the muscle itself.

Although there is also some evidence to suggest that malnutrition exacerbates the effects of alcohol on muscle, the mechanisms responsible for myopathy remain elusive. Some studies suggest that acetaldehyde (a toxic intermediate compound formed by the action of alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme during the metabolism of alcohol), rather than alcohol, is the principal pathogenic perturbant.

A New Study
In an attempt to better understand the pathology induced by alcohol on a common muscle, a team of researchers has tested their hypotheses to determine if: (1) increases in c-myc mRNA levels also occur in the muscle of rats chronically exposed to alcohol, (2) muscle of female rats is more sensitive than muscle in their male counterparts, (3) raising acetaldehyde also increases c-myc, (4) prior starvation causes further increases in c-myc mRNA expression in response to ethanol, and (5) other genes involved in apoptosis (i.e., p53 and Bcl-2) are also affected by alcohol.

The researchers are Tatsuo Nakahara, of the Department of Chemistry, Kyushu University, Ropponmatsu, Fukuoka; Kijiro Hashimoto and Makoto Hirano, both from the Center for Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, Hizen National Mental Hospital, Kanzaki, Saga, Japan; Michael Koll and Victor R. Preedy, from the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Genomics Centre, respectively, King's College London, London, England; and Colin R. Martin, fro

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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