SOUTHAMPTON, England, May 10 (UPI) -- A study in worms found withdrawal symptoms of alcohol could be relieved by small doses of alcohol, but it increased dependency, British researchers said.
Study leader Lindy Holden-Dye, a neuroscientist of the University of Southampton's School of Biological Sciences, said the findings showed evidence a class of brain-signaling molecule -- the neuropeptide -- is required for the chronic effect of alcohol on the worm's nervous system.
The simple brain of C. elegans worms have 302 nerve cells, but exhibits similar alcohol-dependent behaviors as humans, Holden-Dye said.
"This research showed the worms displaying effects of the withdrawal of alcohol and enables us to define how alcohol affects signaling in nerve circuits which leads to changes in behavior," Holden-Dye said in a statement.
"Neuropeptides are also involved in chronic alcohol effects in humans and this is leading to new ideas for the treatment of alcoholism, but their precise role is unclear. Our study provides a very effective experimental system to tackle this problem."
The findings are published in the journal PLoS One.