The work carried out by a team from the Catholic University of Louvain reveals that alcoholic subjects with an altered intestinal microbiota are more depressed, more anxious and more attracted to alcohol than alcoholics with a normal microbiota.
The work led by Professors Philippe de Timary and Nathalie Delzenne, which was published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), further broadens the scope of the roles of the microbiota in the field of health.
An upset microbiota promotes alcoholism
More specifically, they suggest that the microbiota, when disturbed, would be a new player in alcohol addiction. The researchers observed that some alcoholic patients showed an alteration in the composition and function of the intestinal microbiota or dysbiosis, while others maintained a microbiota comparable to that of healthy subjects.
Moreover, dysbiosis is associated with a large increase in intestinal permeability, suggesting that bacteria or their metabolites may regulate the barrier function of the intestine. But what is surprising is that alcoholic subjects with dysbiosis appear more depressed and anxious, and reveal a markedly stronger craving for alcohol.
Healing the gut when managing alcohol dependence
This disruption of the microbiota therefore seems to be associated with a more severe form of addiction and a higher risk of relapse after a detoxification program. These results suggest that the gut-brain axis, already evoked in various pathologies, is also involved in alcohol dependence. They make the microbiota a hitherto unsuspected potential target for the management of alcohol dependence.
Leclercq: Intestinal permeability, gut-bacterial dysbiosis, and behavioral markers of alcohol-dependence severity. PNAS
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