Scientists are exploring if a “sobering up” injection could help people recover from the negative effects of alcohol, writes independent.co.uk.
Researchers injected ‘drunk’ mice with a hormone called FGF21 (fibroblast growth factor 21), which is usually found in the liver.
They found that mice with lower natural levels of the hormone took longer to recover than others.
Large doses of FGF21 were shown to “dramatically accelerate” the process of sobering up by stimulating brain cells linked to arousal – even when the level of ethanol in the body did not change.
The authors of the study said their conclusions show that the liver can help to send signals to the brain to protect against the harmful impacts of alcohol, as well as clearing it from the body,
Mice were tested on the righting reflex and balance following exposure to ethanol.
Dr Steven Kliewer, of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and lead author of the study, said he hoped that FGF21 could be useful for treating people in hospital who present with acute alcohol poisoning.
“Increasing alertness and wakefulness would be helpful both for avoiding the need for intubation (unconscious patients can choke to death on their vomit) and for speeding up evaluation and treatment of other concurrent injuries,” he said.
“We’ve discovered that the liver is not only involved in metabolising alcohol but that it also sends a hormonal signal to the brain to protect against the harmful effects of intoxication, including both loss of consciousness and coordination.”
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