Research Fellows Directory
Dr Ana Luchiari
Most people have already gone through a hangover. But how alcohol that initially promotes such welfare and increases socialization can make one feel so sick afterwards? How does it work in the body and brain to make one forget what have been done or said? And why pregnant women can’t drink while any one else can? Alcoholic beverages contain a small and soluble molecule named ethanol, which is derived from sugar fermentation and can be found in varied concentrations in different drinks, from 2.5% in some beers to more than 70% in vodka and rum. It is known that around 30 min after the beverage intake the amount of alcohol ingested reaches the blood stream and gets contact with many organs, as liver and brain. At the beginning, alcohol increases the activity in some areas of the brain, causing the sensation of relaxation and disinhibition, leading to feelings of well-being and pleasure. However, continuous drinking increases the amounts of alcohol in the body and starts to cause a generalized state of depression, with decreased responsiveness, impaired motor control, disorientation, mental confusion, diminished awareness and drowsiness. While ethanol itself provokes many behavioral changes directly acting in the brain, the liver metabolizes up to 90% of the alcohol ingested and produces a byproduct called acetaldehyde, which is the responsible for many other adverse effects, as headaches, sickness and vomits. Hence we will use zebrafish as a model to understand the effects of alcohol on basic behavioral patterns and an inbred fish species (mangrove killifish) to disentangle the genetic basis of this reactions.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)