Examining the Binding Mechanism and Public Health Implications of Alcohol Consumption and Poisoning


Alcohol is a commonly abused drug, especially in the United States, which contributes to a death rate of over 2,000 people a year from alcohol poisoning. In particular on college campuses, social binge drinking is prevalent, which can lead to alcohol poisoning, defined as excessive alcohol diffusion into the brain. In the case of alcohol poisoning, ethanol molecules diffuse through the blood brain barrier (BBB) and bind to extrasynaptic gamma aminobutyric acid type A (GABA-AR) receptors which causes neuronal inhibition, nausea, breathing difficulties, and potential death. However, specific binding mechanisms remain unknown. To analyze the biological impacts of alcohol poisoning, we created computational models of the lipid bilayer with an inserted GABA protein and the corresponding ethanol concentration of 0.3 g/dL using molecular dynamics. To examine the social impacts of alcohol consumption and college students’ drinking habits, we conducted a survey of undergraduate students at the University of Maryland. After examining the relationship between family history, parental knowledge of alcohol consumption, and drinking frequency and quantity, we elucidated relationships between these variables. By understanding both the biological and social implications of alcohol consumption, future researchers may be able to develop campaigns to prevent deaths from overconsumption of alcohol.