September 30, 2023

Gene Editing a “Factory Reset” for the Brain To Cure Anxiety and Excessive Drinking

In earlier research, the UIC team discovered that binge drinking in teenage years alters brain chemistry at the enhancer region of the Arc gene– for activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein immediate-early gene– and minimizes Arc expression in the amygdala of both rodents and humans. This epigenetic reprogramming of the Arc gene in the brains emotion and memory center adds to a predisposition to anxiety and alcohol use disorder in the adult years.
In the new research, the researchers reveal that this epigenetic reprogramming, which continues throughout life, can really be reversed with gene editing.
” Early binge drinking can have considerable and long-lasting results on the brain and the outcomes of this research study offer evidence that gene editing is a prospective remedy to these impacts, providing a type of factory reset for the brain, if you will,” stated the studys senior author Subhash Pandey, the Joseph A. Flaherty Endowed Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics at UIC.
Pandey and his group used a gene-editing tool called CRISPR-dCas9 in their experiments to control the histone acetylation and methylation processes at the Arc gene in models of adult rats. These processes make genes basically available for activation.
First, the scientists studied adult rats with intermittent alcohol direct exposure in their adolescence, corresponding to about age 10 to 18 in human years. They observed that when dCas9 was used to promote acetylation, a procedure that loosens chromatin and allows transcription aspects to bind to the DNA, Arc gene expression normalized. And, signs of anxiety and alcohol usage reduced.
Stress and anxiety was measured through behavioral screening, such as by documenting the exploratory activity of rats placed in labyrinth tests, and choice for alcohol was determined by keeping an eye on the quantity of liquid taken in when the rats existed with a choice of two bottles consisting of options such as tap water, sugar water, and varying concentrations of alcohol (3%, 7%, and 9%).
In a second design, the scientists studied adult rats without early alcohol direct exposure. When repressive dCas9 was used to promote methylation, which tightens chromatin and avoids transcription elements from binding to DNA, Arc expression reduced and indications of anxiety and alcohol intake increased.
” These results demonstrate that epigenomic editing in the amygdala can ameliorate adult psychopathology after teen alcohol direct exposure,” the authors report.
” Adolescent binge drinking is a severe public health concern, and this study not just assists us much better understand what takes place in establishing brains when they are exposed to high concentrations of alcohol however more significantly offers us hope that one day we will have reliable treatments for the complex and complex diseases of anxiety and alcohol utilize condition,” said Pandey, who is also a senior research study career scientist at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. “That this effect was seen bidirectionally validates the significance of the Arc enhancer gene in the amygdala in epigenetic reprogramming from teen binge drinking.”
Recommendation: “Targeted epigenomic editing ameliorates adult anxiety and excessive drinking after teen alcohol direct exposure” by John Peyton Bohnsack, Huaibo Zhang, Gabriela M. Wandling, Donghong He, Evan J. Kyzar, Amy W. Lasek and Subhash C. Pandey, 4 May 2022, Science Advances.DOI: 10.1126/ sciadv.abn2748.
Co-authors of the study, “Targeted epigenomic modifying ameliorates adult stress and anxiety and extreme drinking after adolescent alcohol exposure,” are John Peyton Bohnsack, Huaibo Zhang, Gabriela Wandling, Donghong He, Evan Kyzar and Amy Lasek, all of UIC.
The research was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (U01AA019971, U24AA024605, P50AA022538, and F32AA027410) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A recent animal study reveals gene modifying reverses brain hereditary reprogramming triggered by adolescent binge drinking.
Gene editing reverses brain genetic reprogramming triggered by teen binge drinking.
Gene editing may be a prospective treatment for stress and anxiety and alcohol utilize condition in adults who were exposed to binge drinking in their teenage years, according to the findings of an animal research study published on May 4, 2022, in the journal Science Advances.
The study was released by researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) who have been studying the impacts of early-life binge drinking on health later in life.