Brain cells that regulate appetite and feeding are activated by alcohol, offering a possible explanation for why drinking can lead to overeating.

Sarah Cains at the Francis Crick Institute in London and her colleagues exposed mice to alcohol for three days and found that the animals' food intake increased during that period. An analysis of mouse brain tissue showed that alcohol boosts the activity of Agrp neurons, which trigger feelings of intense hunger when stimulated. The activity level was similar to that caused by fasting or hunger hormones.

When the team silenced these cells in mice and then gave them alcohol, the animals did not increase their eating.

Nature Commun. 8, 14014 (2017)