When they added ceramide-neutralizing CDP-choline to the mouse cells, cell death and ceramide levels were reduced. Alcohol prompts the body to produce more ceramide from the brain lipid sphingomyelin, a major component of cell membranes. They found that CDP-choline pushes back toward producing less ceramide, preventing damage providing the drinking stops.
"Ceramide can be bad or good," notes Bieberich, who has shown, for example, ceramide's role in helping early stem cells evolve into embryonic tissue. But alcohol upsets the natural balance.
Follow up studies, funded by the March of Dimes, include determining whether CDP-choline can rescue cells after the fact or whether it or a similar supplement would need to be taken preventively. "Hopefully we can rescue some of the cells by triggering or signaling the back reaction," Bieberich said. He also wants to see if CDP-choline affords the same protection in pregnant mice that it does in laboratory cells.
|Contact: Toni Baker|
Medical College of Georgia