Jilted male flies too drown 'sorrow' in alcohol
Washington: Male fruit flies too drown their 'sorrow' in excessive alcohol consumption, like humans, when females reject their sexual advances.
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have discovered that a tiny molecule in the fly's brain called neuropeptide F governs this behaviour -- as the levels of the molecule change in their brains, the flies' behaviour changes as well.
The new work may help shed light on the brain mechanisms that make social interaction rewarding for animals and those that underlie human addiction, the journal Science reports.
A similar human molecule, called neuropeptide Y, may likewise connect social triggers to behaviours like excessive drinking and drug abuse, according to a California statement.
Adjusting the levels of neuropeptide Y in people may alter their addictive behaviour -- which is exactly what the UCSF team observed in the fruit flies.
"If neuropeptide Y turns out to be the transducer (linkage) between the state of the psyche and the drive to abuse alcohol and drugs, one could develop therapies to inhibit neuropeptide Y receptors," said Ulrike Heberlein, professor of anatomy and neurology at UCSF, who led the research.
Clinical trials are underway, she added, to test whether delivery of neuropeptide Y can alleviate anxiety and other mood disorders as well as obesity.