Binge drinking, which is defined as the consumption of five drinks of alcohol within 2 hours in men or four drinks in women, once a month or more often is associated with an increased risk for developing the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Whether binge drinking impairs glucose homeostasis and insulin action is unknown however.

To test this, the authors of this paper treated rats daily with alcohol (3 g/kg) for three consecutive days to simulate human binge drinking and found that these rats developed and exhibited insulin resistance even after blood alcohol concentrations had become undetectable.

Rats that had consumed alcohol exhibited impaired hypothalamic insulin action, defined as the ability of insulin infused into the mediobasal hypothalamus to suppress hepatic glucose production and white adipose tissue lipolysis. In addition, insulin signaling as assessed by insulin receptor and AKT phosphorylation, decreased after binge drinking. Hypothalamic inflammation was increased.

Expression of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B, a negative regulator of insulin signaling was also increased and ICV infusion of CPT-157633, a small-molecule inhibitor of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B, prevented binge drinking–induced glucose intolerance. These results show that binge drinking induces systemic insulin resistance by impairing hypothalamic insulin action and that this effect can be prevented by inhibition of brain protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B, a negative regulator of insulin signaling.

Lindtner C, Scherer T, Zielinski E, Filatova N, Fasshauer M, Tonks NK, Puchowicz M, Buettner C: Binge Drinking Induces Whole-Body Insulin Resistance by Impairing Hypothalamic Insulin Action. Sci Transl Med 5(170):170ra14 (2013), doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3005123.

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