Featured Paper of the Month – February 2022
Published in Translational Psychiatry by Daria Piacentino and Lorenzo Leggio, et al. of the NIDA IRP Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology and Neuropsychopharmacology Section.
Chronic excessive alcohol drinking causes more than 80,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. The gut microbiota, which hosts more than a trillion bacteria, is gaining increasing attention as a potential modulator in neuropsychiatric disorders. Its diversity is fundamental in maintaining homeostasis. There is limited research on the role of the microbiome-gut-brain axis in alcohol use disorder. Dr. Daria Piacentino and her colleagues address the fundamental question on whether chronic excessive alcohol drinking affects the gut microbiome and metabolome in a baboon model, investigated under rigorous controlled experimental conditions. The Authors show that changes in the gut microbiome and metabolome occur after significant long-term (12 years on average), but not relatively short-term (three years on average) excessive drinking. These changes include a detrimental decrease in gut microbiome diversity and alcohol-induced alterations of microbiota-related metabolites, such as aromatic amino acids, tricarboxylic acid cycle, and pentose. An increase in mucosal damage and oxidative stress markers was also observed. In conclusion, this work provides novel information on the effects of alcohol on the gut microbiome and metabolome and, importantly, helps bridge the translational gap in alcohol research between rodents and humans.