Alcoholism and Depression

How the GPR39 Gene links both conditions

You might not have heard of the GPR39 gene. No, it’s not a James Bond gadget.

However, you may know someone who would benefit from understanding how and why the GPR39 gene influences depression and alcohol consumption. In a recent study, the amount of zinc-sensing receptors in a protein made from the GPR39 gene was changed.

Researchers reduced alcohol consumption in mice by encoding and targeting the GPR39 gene. Previously, the GPR39 zinc-binding receptor gene was only linked to depression. However, the medical community knows that mood and alcohol disorders frequently co-occur.

Alcohol abusers are 3.7 times more likely to suffer from significant depression. The GPR39 research on depression and alcoholism demonstrates the importance of cross-disorder approaches in studies. The cross-disorder system helps find treatments for any substance or mood disorder.

The significance of the GPR39 gene for alcohol and depression research cannot be overstated. 

How to Treat Alcoholism and Major Depression

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says that an integrated treatment approach is the best way to deal with drug abuse. This is because coordinating substance abuse treatment with mental health interventions results in a stronger and higher success rate. People who struggle with addiction in most rehabilitation centres today will frequently trigger a mental health illness such as depression.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who abuse alcohol almost always have a comorbid condition of some form of depression. As a result, many people in substance abuse treatment centres also receive treatment for depression or a mood disorder. Nobody has ever been able to determine which comes first, depression or alcoholism.

It’s frequently compared to the age-old question of whether the chicken or the egg came first. In the treatment equation, the only thing that matters is that the therapy addresses alcoholism and depression.

Gene GPR39

Alcoholism and depression are already linked medically, and various factors influence both. They are as follows:

  • Family history of alcoholism or depression disorder
  • Genetics
  • The environment in which you live or are exposed to 
  • Biochemistry

The GPR39 gene was previously identified as an encoded protein coupled with receptor genes. The receptor genes play a role in zinc-dependent signalling to various tissues and organs. Historically, protein was thought to play a role in the pathophysiology of depression.

People are now looking into it as a way to treat both depression and alcoholism at the same time. When the GPR39 gene was hypermethylated, a new and exciting treatment for alcoholism was discovered. The expression of heavy alcohol-drinking macaques was downregulated when they were hypermethylated.

The GPR39 agonist was found to reduce the macaques’ overall alcohol intake.

Programs for the Treatment of Depression and Alcoholism

The transformation that can occur when you find a rehabilitation programme that treats both the inner and outer self can be astounding. No one in treatment should be given a time limit to recover from drugs, alcohol, or a mental disorder such as depression. What works for one person might not work at all for another.

Treatment programmes can include successful phases, but no therapy should end abruptly or incompletely. If at all possible, new developments in the field of depression and alcoholism research should be incorporated into programme deliverables. The GPR39 gene is an example.

Successful gene treatment cannot be implemented in programmes for depression and alcoholism. They can’t be done yet, at least not yet. This is because research and studies on the GPR39 gene are still being done in a controlled scientific setting.

So far, the research is promising, and it may not be long before this type of treatment becomes an acceptable and viable option for treating depression and alcoholism.

Statistics on alcoholism and depression are staggering

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is defined as an inability to control one’s desire to consume alcohol. When a person tries to stop drinking, AUD can cause withdrawal symptoms

UK data shows 8,974 alcohol-related deaths in 2020. (around 14 per 100,000 people). This year’s deaths are up 18.6%.

Alcohol misuse is the most significant risk factor for death, illness, and disability among 15-49-year-olds in the UK and the fifth overall.

Early in 2021, about 1 in 5 (21%) adults reported having some form of depression in the UK – an increase from November 2020 (19%) and more than double what was seen before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (10%).

The medical community was already aware that mood disorders and AUD were linked. However, determining which treatments were the most effective was nearly impossible.

In 2019, researchers began studying the zinc-binding receptor G-protein coupled with GPR39 almost by chance. The same combination had previously been linked to alleviating depression. The AUD study used a zinc-binding receptor called G-protein, which was already successful in rhesus macaques.

This time, the scientists hypothesised that increased GPR39 gene activity could reduce alcohol consumption and that it should be tested further for research purposes.

If you or a loved one is affected by alcoholism, call Freephone 0800 140 4044

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