Subhash Pandey, PhD Joseph A. Flaherty Professor of Psychiatry The 2020-21 University Scholar, University of Illinois
The University of Illinois Chicago has received $4.5 million in continuation funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to support the UIC site of the national Neurobiology of Adolescent Drinking in Adulthood, or NADIA, consortium. The UIC site is led by Subhash Pandey, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics at UIC. He also will serve as a scientific director of the overall NADIA consortium. The mission of the consortium is to study how adolescent binge drinking affects genes, brain circuitry, and behaviors through epigenetics — chemical changes to DNA, RNA or proteins that alter the expression of genes without directly modifying them. This funding, which is a renewal of funding from the NIAAA first awarded in 2010, will support the consortium for five years.
The University of Illinois at Chicago received $8.2 million from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to continue the Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics and its research on how alcohol affects genes through epigenetics — chemical changes to DNA, RNA or proteins that alter the expression of genes without directly modifying them.
A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that high estrogen levels may make alcohol more rewarding to female mice. The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, suggests that treatment for alcohol use disorder or binge drinking behavior may be more effective if sex differences are considered. Amy Lasek, associate professor of psychiatry and anatomy and cell biology, led the research, which looked specifically at estrogen receptors in the brain to determine the mechanisms by which estrogen regulates alcohol sensitivity.
University of Illinois at Chicago researchers report that intermittent exposure to high levels of alcohol in adolescent animals leads to increased levels of microRNA-137 — a molecule that regulates gene expression in cells — in the brains of adults. Their findings, which are published in the journal eNEURO, also show that blocking microRNA-137 in adulthood helps to reverse or reduce the lasting effects of youth drinking in animal models, such as increased alcohol use and anxiety. “MicroRNA-137 is an important part of normal brain development, but when young brains are exposed to high amounts of alcohol intermittently, as happens with binge drinking behavior, the molecule’s regular function is altered,” said Subhash Pandey, professor of psychiatry and director of the UIC Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics. “By altering microRNA-137 levels, binge drinking actually rewires the brain.”