A new study led by the group of U.S.-based researchers have suggested that binge drinking alters the common brain protein into a biological rogue, which is highly prevalent in Alzheimer's disease. The protein is recognized by ‘tau’. Researchers suggested that tau, which is found in the neurons controls the stability of axonal microtubules in its normal conformation, whereas in abnormal conformation, tau creates tangles in the notorious "plaques and tangles" pathology indicating Alzheimer's. Moreover, plaques are the buildups of the protein beta amyloid. In the study, researchers mainly investigated on under the impact of excessive alcohol or binge drinking, how tau alters itself from a normal protein into a neuron-annihilating cause of Alzheimer's.
Dr. Max Brenner, from the Feinstein Institutes stated, “Studies have shown that frequent and heavy alcohol drinking is linked to earlier onset and increased severity of Alzheimer's disease. It has been reported that alcohol consumption correlates with Alzheimer's-like cortical atrophy in individuals at high risk of developing the disease as well as younger age of onset. In addition, chronic alcohol exposure caused neural tau phosphorylation in the hippocampus and memory-impairment in Alzheimer's-predisposed mice.”
In the study, researchers mainly focused on specific proteins such as extracellular cold-inducible RNA-binding protein (eCIRP) and cold-inducible RNA-binding protein (CIRP), which plays a key roles in the proliferating tau. Researchers highlighted that CIRP is commonly found in the cell nucleus that aids in regulating the protein generated by each individual cell. Furthermore, when cells are exposed to alcohol they release molecules such as eCIRP to alert surrounding cells to initiate their defenses to overcome the stress conditions. The cells being alerted recognize eCIRP exterior to the cell when it connects to specific protein receptors in the cell membrane. They also informed that the cascade of eCIRP proteins is activated when alcohol disperses throughout the brain.
Researchers concluded that the initial study findings suggests that excessive consumption of alcohol exacerbates beta amyloid deposition by raising the levels of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and are focused on studying the effects of alcohol on tau.