Researchers find possible link between pre-natal alcohol consumption and diabetes

April 9, 2003 (San Diego) -- The name is misleading but diabetes insipidus is not associated with diabetes mellitus (which is also called sugar diabetes). Victims of this disorder have kidneys that fail to adequately concentrate urine very well, leading to increased frequency of urination. Diabetes insipidus patients are thirsty all the time, finding the need to consume liquids every hour. The causes of diabetes insipidus are unclear. In some, a part of the brain (called the hypothalamus) doesn't make enough antidiuretic hormone (called ADH, and also called by its chemical name, arginine-vasopressin or AVP); in others, the kidneys don't work with this hormone the way they should. Most people with diabetes insipidus are diagnosed following an injury to the head or after brain surgery. A brain tumor is sometimes present in those with this disease; about one in four have no discernible reason for diabetes insipidus.

A new study conducted under the auspices of the Departments of Defense and Army may have found that prenatal ethanol exposure in rats can lead to a partial central diabetes insipidus evident in the young adult. This is supported by the observations that pre-natal ethanol (PE)-exposed rats drank twice as much water, had reduced pituitary content of AVP, a 50 percent reduction in the genetic material in the hypothalamus necessary for the synthesis of AVP, a reduced response of AVP release to an osmotic stimulus, and increased basal plasma salt concentration (osmolality). [Note: Vasopressin regulates blood volume and salt concentration. Animals deprived of water detect increases in salt concentration in the hypothalamus, which causes the release of vasopressin, thereby increasing water retention. Feedback from the kidneys, through release of renin and activation of angiotensin, elevates blood pressure and leads to activation of cells in the lateral hypothalamus, which control drinking behavior.]

These findings may be significant for those

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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