Gut microbiota and voluntary alcohol consumption

Transl Psychiatry. 2022 Apr 7;12(1):146. doi: 10.1038/s41398-022-01920-2.


Alcohol is part of the usual diet of millions of individuals worldwide. However, not all individuals who drink alcohol experience the same effects, nor will everyone develop an alcohol use disorder. Here we propose that the intestinal microbiota (IMB) helps explain the different consumption patterns of alcohol among individuals. 507 humans participated in this study and alcohol consumption and IMB composition were analyzed. On the other hand, in 80 adult male Wistar rats, behavioral tests, alcohol intoxication, fecal transplantation, administration of antibiotics and collection of fecal samples were performed. For identification and relative quantification of bacterial taxa was used the bacterial 16 S ribosomal RNA gene. In humans, we found that heavy episodic drinking is associated with a specific stool type phenotype (type 1, according to Bristol Stool Scale; p < 0.05) and with an increase in the abundance of Actinobacteria (p < 0.05). Next, using rats, we demonstrate that the transfer of IMB from alcohol-intoxicated animals causes an increase in voluntary alcohol consumption in transplant-recipient animals (p < 0.001). The relative quantification data indicate that the genus Porphyromonas could be associated with the effect on voluntary alcohol consumption. We also show that gut microbiota depletion by antibiotics administration causes a reduction in alcohol consumption (p < 0.001) and altered the relative abundance of relevant phyla such as Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes or Cyanobacteria (p < 0.05), among others. Benjamini-Hochberg false discovery rate (FDR) correction was performed for multiple comparisons. These studies reveal some of the consequences of alcohol on the IMB and provide evidence that manipulation of IMB may alter voluntary alcohol consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria
  • Fecal Microbiota Transplantation
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents