HealthDay News — Alcohol consumption is associated with markers of higher brain iron, according to a study published online July 14 in PLOS Medicine.
Anya Topiwala, B.M.B.Ch., D.Phil., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues compared observational associations between brain iron markers and alcohol consumption among 20,729 U.K. Biobank participants with associations with genetically predicted alcohol intake and alcohol use disorder from two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR).
The researchers found that alcohol consumption was associated with markers of higher iron in putamen, caudate, and substantia nigra and with lower iron in the thalami. In quintile-based analyses, these associations were seen for participants consuming more than seven units (56 g) of alcohol weekly. Weak evidence was seen in MR analyses that these relationships were causal. Associations were seen for genetically predicted alcohol use disorder with serum iron and transferrin saturation. At >11 units (88 g) of alcohol weekly, liver iron was elevated. The associations of alcohol intake with brain iron were partially mediated by systemic iron levels. Higher basal ganglia iron markers were associated with slower executive function, lower fluid intelligence, and slower reaction times.
“Iron accumulation could underlie alcohol-related cognitive decline,” Topiwala said in a statement.
Two authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry; one author is named as an inventor on a PCT patent application.