29. September 2011
While alcohol may be bad for the health in the overall sense, there is no denying in the fact that different people have different tolerance level based on the amount of alcohol they can consume. Some people can get drunk with just one small shot, while there are others who can go on binge drinking without getting too sauced. While a number of theories have sprung up explaining the steps to calculate this tolerance, none of them have come up with a satisfying solution so far. However, Adelaide university of Australia may be on to something, as they have proved that our ability to get drunk may be controlled by our immune system.
In order to observe the extent of this connection, the team of scientists decided to experiment with a group of lab mice. First, they introduced one group of these mice to significant amount of alcohol and then gave them a drug, to inhibit the toll like receptors of their immune system. Toll like receptors are a protein based class of hormones that work enforce the orders given by the immune system.
After that, the group used a second team of mice that were chemically altered to get rid of their toll like receptor function, and made them drink the same amount of alcohol. To their surprise, they learned that the mice with the toll like receptors were in the control group as they showed a much stronger resistance to alcohol than the other group. By stronger resistance, we mean that the immune system toll like receptors actually released chemicals that gave their system more tolerance. According to Dr Mark Hutchinson, the key researcher to this project, alcohol always affects that parts of the immune system that are concerned with locomotion and balance.
However, since these experiments were solely performed on lab rats, nobody can say for sure if the same can be said about a human test subject. Besides, while the immune system may do its job, a blood alcohol content level of 250 ml can not only cause impaired judgment and respiratory systems, but it even death or coma. Nevertheless, on the bright side, we now have a better understanding on how the immune system helps the body in fighting toxins and poisons.