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当小龙虾被灌得酩酊烂醉后,将会发生什么

小龙虾有助于研究者认识酒醉

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译者:Jenny_Peng
发布:2017-05-02 10:12:12 挑错

HUMANS are not the only species to enjoy a snifter. Myriad experiments on other animals, from rats and monkeys to bees and fruit flies, show that they also get drunk, will seek out alcohol given the opportunity and may even develop a dependence on the stuff. But alcohol promotes conviviality as well as drunkenness, and that relationship is less well explored. In particular, there are few studies of whether the link is reciprocal—whether conviviality, or at least a sociable environment, affects susceptibility to alcohol. This question has, however, now been looked into. In a paper just published in Experimental Biology, Matthew Swierzbinski, Andrew Lazarchik and Jens Herberholz of the University of Maryland have shown that a sociable upbringing does indeed increase sensitivity to alcohol. At least, it does if you are a crayfish.

人类不是唯一喜欢小酌一杯的物种。大量实验研究其他动物,从耗子、猴子到蜜蜂和果蝇,其结果表明,它们也会酒醉,还会逮着机会到处搜刮酒精,有的甚至逐渐变得依赖酒精。然而,酒除了会引起醉感,还会增强欢宴感,但研究很少涉及这种关系。尤其是,几乎没有人探究这种关系是否具有相互性,即欢宴感或至少社交环境是否会影响对酒精的敏感度。然而,现在有人研究这个问题了。在不久前发表于《试验生物》的一篇论文中,马里兰大学的马修(Matthew Swierzbinski)、安德鲁(Andrew Lazarchik)和延斯(Jens Herberholz)发现,社交氛围确实增加对酒精的敏感度。如果你是小龙虾,至少如此。

The three researchers’purpose in studying drunken crayfish is to understand better how alcohol induces behavioural changes. Most recreational drugs, from cocaine and heroin to nicotine and caffeine, have well-understood effects on known receptor molecules in brain cells. That is not, though, true of ethanol, as the type of alcohol which gets people drunk is known to chemists. Ethanol’s underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. But one thing which is known is that crayfish are affected by the same concentrations of the stuff as those that affect humans. Since crayfish also have large, easy-to-study nerve cells that can be examined for clues as to ethanol’s molecular mechanisms, Mr Swierzbinski, Mr Lazarchik and Dr Herberholz are using them to try to track those mechanisms down.

这三位学者研究酒醉小龙虾的目的在于,更好认识酒精如何引起行为变化。人们已经很好认识到,大多数消遣性毒品,从卡可因、海洛因到尼古丁再到咖啡因,对大脑细胞中的已知受体分子产生影响的机制。但是乙醇并不是这种情况,虽然化学家清楚它是使人喝醉的酒精类型。人们对乙醇的深层分子机制的认识不深,但已知的一点是,影响小龙虾和人类的是同样浓度的乙醇。由于小龙虾的神经细胞也很大,便于研究,且可以作为研究乙醇分子机制的线索,因此马修,安德鲁和延斯博士使用了小龙虾,尝试追踪这些机制。

Their latest experiment involved 102 of the crustaceans that had each been kept for between seven and ten days in the company of several dozen others, and a further 63 that had been raised in isolation for similar amounts of time. Each crayfish was then transferred individually to a tank containing a solution of ethanol in water, and videoed for three hours to record what happened next.

他们最近又做了一个实验,102只小龙虾每只都和其他几十只小龙虾一起存放7-10天,63只独立存放相等时间。然后把每只小龙虾分别转移到装着乙醇溶液的容器里,并摄像3小时记录接下来发生的事情。

As might be expected, those animals put into the most concentrated solution, 5.8% by volume, the strength of a potent beer, got pretty drunk. First, they started walking around on tiptoes. Then, they began flicking their tails and doing somersaults (see picture). Finally, the most inebriated ended up lying on their backs, kicking their legs in the air—or, rather, in the water.

如猜想一样,被放进浓度最高的溶液中的小龙虾醉得最厉害,浓度为浓烈啤酒的含量5.8%。起初,它们开始用脚尖走路。接着,开始甩动尾巴滚翻(见图)。最后,醉得最厉害的那部分小龙虾躺下了,在空中踢腿,或者准确来说是在水中。

Crayfish put in weaker solutions, a half or a tenth as concentrated, behaved similarly, but got there more slowly—and, in the case of those in the weakest solution, often managed to avoid the leg-kicking stage altogether. Crayfish, in other words, behave much like a bunch of roisterers out on the town of a Saturday night.Crucially, though, when the researchers examined the videos in detail, to record what happened when, they found that, regardless of alcohol concentration, animals that had spent the previous few days in company got drunk about 25% faster than those that had been kept in solitary confinement. They therefore suspect that societymakes whatever receptor molecules it is that interact with ethanol moreplentiful in crayfish nervous systems than they otherwise would be. The next stage is to compare nerve cells from social and solitary animals, to try to work out what those receptor molecules might be—and then, if they can be so identified, to see if what is true in crayfish is also true in people.

比之前浓度低50%和10%的溶液中的小龙虾行为也相似,但是过程更缓慢,溶液浓度最低中的小龙虾最后往往都没到踢腿这一阶段。换言之,小龙虾行为很像一群周六到镇上喝酒的人。然而,关键在于,当研究者仔细观察记录了全过程的视频时,他们发现,不论酒精溶度,前几天非独立存放的那些小龙虾比独立存放的醉得快25%。他们由此怀疑,社交使小龙虾神经系统中的所有与乙醇作用的受体分子数量远远高于正常数量。下一步是比较非独立和独立小龙虾的神经细胞,试图弄清楚那些受体分子是什么,如果可以成功查证,接着就探究对小龙虾的实验结果是否同样适用于人类。


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