“Energy drink” by joelklal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Understanding How Energy Drinks Plus Alcohol May Increase Risky Behavior

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Energy drink” by joelklal is licensed under CC BY 2.0Barbara D. Fontana

Laboratory of Experimental Neuropsychobiology,
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Natural and Exact Sciences Center
Graduate Program in Biological Sciences
Toxicological Biochemistry, Federal University of Santa Maria,
Santa Maria, Brazil 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Our research group has been working with taurine and alcohol association for a long time. The background for this study is around increased consumption of molecules present in energy drinks frequently used as mixers for alcoholic beverages. Taurine is one of the most abundant molecules found in energetic drinks and has a neuromodulatory role in brain. In this context, we explore the effects of taurine associated to alcohol. Thus, as result we observed that this association exacerbate risky choices and reduces social cohesion in zebrafish, having a negative impact in social and fear-related behavior.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Is already known that energy drinks contain high concentration of caffeine and this molecule can have negative impact when associated to alcohol. Moreover, now we showed more data corroborating to the negative impact that energy drinks can take when used associated to alcohol. Consequently, readers should have caution when combining alcohol and energy drinks. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: I think that the next step now is study the mechanisms in which taurine and alcohol association modulates behavior exploring the impact of these molecules in brain circuits. Moreover, we also need to ask what the impact of the combinate use caffeine, taurine and alcohol, once that energy drinks have high concentrations not only of taurine but also of caffeine.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: I would like to reinforce that the use of these two molecules should be more studied, once that both molecules alcohol and taurine has neuromodulatory role in brain. In fact, a previously study from our group (Fontana et al., 2016) showed that the use of alcohol and taurine can even potentiate aggressiveness behavior in zebrafish. Overall, we already showed that taurine can increase the negative effects of alcohol, but the mechanisms underlining these effects remain unknown. Thus, the authors are looking forward to work in collaboration with others research groups to better understand what is happening in brain when these molecules are combined.


Barbara D. Fontana, Flavia V. Stefanello, Nathana J. Mezzomo, Talise E. Müller, Vanessa A. Quadros, Matthew O. Parker, Eduardo P. Rico, Denis B. Rosemberg. Taurine modulates acute ethanol-induced social behavioral deficits and fear responses in adult zebrafish. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2018; 104: 176 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2018.08.008 

Aug 21, 2018 @ 12:49 am

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