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Brain dopamine may serve as a risk marker for alcohol use disorders
Date:8/9/2013

  • There are known risks for and protective factors against the development of alcohol use disorders (AUDs).
  • A new study has found that striatal dopamine responses to alcohol ingestion may serve as a neurobiological marker of vulnerability to AUDs.
  • Specifically, when given alcohol, those at high risk showed an increase in brain dopamine and those at low risk actually showed a decrease in brain dopamine.

There are two traits closely associated with the development of alcohol use disorders (AUDs). One is a lower subjective intoxication response, also known as a low level of response to alcohol. The second is a greater propensity for reward seeking behaviors, as indexed by personality traits. Given that the best-studied neurobiological system related to drug-seeking behaviors is mesolimbic dopamine, this study investigated the relationship between these two qualities and striatal dopamine responses to alcohol, finding that striatal dopamine responses to alcohol ingestion may serve as a neurobiological marker of vulnerability to AUDs.

Results will be published in the January 2014 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"A large body of research has implicated a role for dopamine in reward-seeking behaviors in general," said Marco Leyton, professor of psychiatry at McGill University as well as corresponding author for the study. "For example, in both laboratory animals and people, increased dopamine transmission seems to enhance the ability of reward-related stimuli to grab attention and attract you. This effect likely contributes to why having one drink increases the probability of getting a second one the alcohol-induced dopamine response makes the second drink look all the more desirable."

"Many studies have further established that brain dopamine (DA) systems in an area of the brain called the striatum especially the ventral striatum
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Contact: Marco Leyton, Ph.D.
marco.leyton@mcgill.ca
514-398-5804
McGill University

Terry E. Robinson, Ph.D.
ter@umich.edu
734-358-8055
The University of Michigan

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research


Source:Eurekalert

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