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Enhanced Striatal Dopamine Release to Expectation of Alcohol: A Potential Risk Factor for Alcohol Use Disorder

Published:April 20, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2018.03.018

      Abstract

      Background

      We used positron emission tomography imaging with [11C]raclopride to examine the effects of consumption of alcohol or placebo beverage by participants with alcohol use disorder (AUD) compared with healthy participants with and without family history of AUD. We sought to assess dopamine release following alcohol exposure in relation to AUD risk.

      Methods

      Three groups were enrolled: participants with AUD (n = 15) and healthy participants with family history negative (n = 34) or positive (n = 16) for AUD. Participants consumed a placebo (n = 65) or alcohol (n = 63) beverage in counterbalanced order before positron emission tomography scanning (128 scans). Binding potential (BPND) in the two drink conditions and the percent change in BPND between conditions were evaluated across striatal subregions. Subjective effects of beverage consumption were rated. Effects of group, drink order, and sex were evaluated.

      Results

      Alcohol resulted in greater dopamine release than did placebo in the ventral striatum (p < .001). There were no main effects of group, drink order, or sex on ventral striatum BPND or percent change in BPND. However, there was a drink order-by-group interaction (p = .02) whereby family history–positive participants who received placebo first had both lower placebo BPND and less difference between placebo and alcohol BPND than all other groups, consistent with expectation of alcohol powerfully evoking dopamine release in this group. Subjective responses showed the same order-by-group interaction.

      Conclusions

      Hyper-responsivity of the dopaminergic system in family history–positive participants to expectation of alcohol may contribute to the expression of familial risk for AUD.

      Keywords

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      Linked Article

      • Erratum
        Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and NeuroimagingVol. 5Issue 1
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          Erratum to: “Enhanced Striatal Dopamine Release to Expectation of Alcohol: A Potential Risk Factor for Alcohol Use Disorder,” by Kegeles et al. (Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging 2018; 3:591–598); https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2018.03.018 .
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