Scientists successfully test new probiotic on mice to reduce hangovers

The results showed that it significantly reduced the negative effects of drinking alcohol.
Mrigakshi Dixit
Representative image
Hangovers are never fun


Scientists have discovered a potential treatment for alcohol-induced hangovers and other negative health outcomes linked to drinking.

The Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Zoology came up with this solution and created a genetically-engineered probiotic.

The team tested this probiotic on mice models, and the results showed that it significantly reduced the negative effects of alcohol, extended the body’s tolerance, and even reduced recovery time after drinking.

The testing of the probiotic on mice

When we consume alcohol, our bodies use alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes to metabolize its effects. The authors noted that some variants of this enzyme might be more effective than others.

As a result, they harnessed the power of a more potent enzyme form known as ADH1B. They also used a probiotic to deliver the enzyme to the human body. Lactococcus lactis, a bacterium commonly used in fermentation, was used for this purpose. 

They administered the probiotic to three groups of five mice, each of which had consumed varying amounts of alcohol. The ability of the mice to get back on their feet after being placed on their backs was used to assess their drunken state.

“Untreated mice showed signs of drunkenness  20 minutes after exposure to alcohol. When the mice were placed on their backs, for example, they were unable to get back on their feet. But in the group that received a probiotic that expressed human ADH1B, half the mice were still able to turn themselves over 1 hour after alcohol exposure. A quarter never lost their ability to turn themselves over,” explained the statement. 

Furthermore, following two hours of alcohol exposure, blood alcohol levels in the probiotic-treated mice started to fall. This experimentation has shown promising results, and the authors now hope to test the treatment in humans. 

“We believe that genetically engineered probiotics will provide new ideas for the treatment of liver diseases. We are excited about the improvement of recombinant probiotics in acute alcohol-induced liver and intestinal damage,” said Meng Dong, Ph.D., at the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Zoology, in a statement. 

This treatment could be extremely beneficial for humans, as excessive alcohol consumption causes hangovers, headaches, fatigue, and nausea. Not only that but drinking alcohol causes life-threatening diseases associated with the heart and other organs. 

The results are published in the journal Microbiology Spectrum.

Study abstract:

Alcohol is an essential drug in human life with multiple medical functions, but excessive alcohol intake, even a single episode of binge drinking, can cause serious damage. Reducing alcohol consumption or absorption is a direct way to alleviate the related harm. Alcohol is decomposed successively by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) in the liver. Here, we produced a human ADH1B (hADH1B)-expressing probiotic, a recombinant Lactococcus lactis, that aimed to enhance alcohol degradation in the intestinal tract after oral administration. Our results showed that the oral hADH1B-expressing probiotic reduced alcohol absorption, prolonged the alcohol tolerance time, and shortened the recovery time after acute alcohol challenge. More importantly, the liver and intestine were protected from acute injury caused by alcohol challenge. Therefore, the engineered probiotic has the potential to protect organ damage from alcohol consumption. Furthermore, this engineered probiotic may have beneficial effects on alcohol-related diseases such as alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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