Probiotic exhibits protective factors against ill effects of alcohol in mice

May 04, 2023 | Histopathology

Researchers from China found a way to diminish hangovers and other adverse outcomes of excessive alcohol consumption.

The enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) is used by the human body to metabolize alcohol. However, some variants prove to be more effective than others as numerous studies indicated. Found in East Asian and Polynesia populations, the variant ADH1B is 100 times more active than others. And, viral vectors that are genetically engineered to express ADH1B tend to accelerate the breakdown of alcohol. Even so, this approach hasn’t been determined to be safe in humans. These findings motivated Dong and her colleagues to develop a safe delivery method through the use of the probiotic Lactococcus lactis, a bacterium utilized in fermentation.  

In their experiments on mice, the probiotic treatment reduced alcohol absorption, prolonged alcohol tolerance, and shortened the subject’s recovery after alcohol exposure. Molecular cloning was used in the introduction of the gene for human ADH1B into a bacterial plasmid, then later into a strain of L.lactis. The presence of the secreted enzyme was confirmed through lab tests. They encapsulated the probiotic to ensure its survival against stomach acid and administered it on 3 groups of 5 mice. Each group was exposed to different levels of alcohol.

In testing the approach’s effectiveness, the researchers observed the ability of the mice to turn themselves over, after being placed on their backs 20 minutes after alcohol exposure, as criterion. The experimental group expressed human ADH1B and were able to get back on their feet. ¼ of these mice never even lost the ability to turn themselves over. On the other hand, the untreated mice showed signs of drunkenness and were unable to get back on their feet. 

Odoo text and image block
Odoo image and text block

Additional tests showed that 2 hours following exposure, control group mice showed a continuing rise of blood alcohol levels compared to probiotic-treated mice where it began to fall. Moreover, treated mice’s liver showed lower levels of lipids and triglycerides, a finding that suggests how probiotics can alleviate alcohol-related damage to that organ.

In investigating its potential therapeutic effects on humans, the team is excited about the prospect of improving recombinant probiotics for alcohol-induced health problems and liver problems. The researchers also noted that the clinical implications of this study can extend beyond alcohol-related conditions.

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