Moderate Alcohol Can Make Your Heart Healthier
27 Feb, 2011 - 07:00pm
People are always warned against drinking alcohol - the cause of various diseases. However, an interesting study has come in light which states that drinking small amount of alcohol can reduce risk of heart diseases. The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center and Dublin City University.
The rationale behind the conduct of this study is the hypothesis that alcohol can affect the muscle cells which are responsible for creating a layer of fat around the blood vessels. This layer of fat increases the chances of heart diseases. Laboratory studies have shown that alcohol reduces production of these muscle cells. A protein named Notch 1 is involved in controlling the production of muscle cells.
In this study, the researchers treated muscle cells with alcohol and examined alcohol’s effect on the activity of the Notch 1 protein. The researchers viewed the effect of alcohol on muscle cell in live mice. Researchers had decreased the blood flow in mice by partly binding them. This operation leads to thickening of the artery walls caused by production of muscle cells, similar to that seen in human heart disease. Some of the mice were fed a moderate quantity of daily alcohol and vessel curing was compared between the mice that were given alcohol and those that were not given.
The study results showed that alcohol reduced the activity of the gene that is involved in the production of Notch 1 protein in muscle cells. Simultaneously, it also decreased the production of the muscle cells. However no reduction in production of Notch 1 protein was seen in the cells that were genetically engineered, when treated with alcohol. Further in mice that were partly tied off, drinking a moderate quantity of alcohol decreased the production of the muscle cells in the vessel walls. It also reduced the normal thickening of the vessel wall unlike in mice not drinking alcohol. The mice that drank alcohol also had a decreased action in the gene that produces Notch 1.
Based on the study results it can be concluded that alcohol inhibits Notch 1 signalling and therefore muscle cell production equally in the laboratory muscle cells as well as in mice. However, there is no clear indication regarding the amount of alcohol required to protect from heart risk and therefore it is not promising to state how well this relates to the amount of alcohol given to the mice. The consequences of alcohol on the cells in the body are probably multifaceted, demanding the need of further research to completely understand the phenomenon.