Scientists at Scripps Research have found that chronic alcohol consumption can increase sensitivity to pain through two distinct molecular mechanisms – one associated with alcohol intake and the other with alcohol withdrawal. This new finding sheds light on the intricate relationship between alcohol and pain.
According to a recent study published on April 12, 2023 in the British Journal of Pharmacology, chronic pain and hypersensitivity associated with alcohol could be treated with new drug targets. Marisa Roberto, the senior author of the study, explains that pain is a common symptom in individuals with alcohol dependence and can also be a reason why people continue to drink. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) affects almost 30 million people in the U.S. and can lead to several chronic diseases, including heart disease and liver disease. Over half of individuals with AUD experience persistent pain, including alcoholic neuropathy, which causes chronic pain due to nerve damage. Alcohol consumption can also change how the brain processes pain signals, and the pain can cause increased alcohol consumption. The study, which focused on adult mice, found that allodynia occurred during alcohol withdrawal in dependent mice and that access to alcohol decreased pain sensitivity. The researchers also discovered that different molecular mechanisms drive the two types of pain associated with alcohol dependence. The study authors, including first author Vittoria Borgonetti and co-senior author Nicoletta Galeotti, are continuing to study how these molecules could be used to diagnose or treat alcohol-related chronic pain conditions.
Source: Science Daily