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

are engaged by most drugs of abuse, including alcohol," added Terry E. Robinson, Elliot S. Valenstein Distinguished University Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience at The University of Michigan. "Of course, these brain systems did not evolve to mediate the effects of drugs, but are normally involved in mediating the motivational properties of 'natural' rewards such as food, water, and sex. These DA systems appear to be especially important in determining the degree to which rewards become desired. So, if they are activated to an abnormal degree, this can result in pathological 'wanting' or 'craving' for associated rewards. This is what drugs of abuse are thought to do they increase DA activity more than what is normal, and when taken repeatedly, the ability of drugs to activate DA systems is often further increased or 'sensitized.'"

"Previous studies have indicated that drinking an alcoholic beverage can increase striatal dopamine release in humans," said Leyton. "To our knowledge, this is the first study examining the relation between dopamine transmission and the low intoxication marker of alcoholism risk."

Researchers recruited 26 healthy social drinkers (18 men, 8 women) from the Montreal area, 18 to 30 years of age, who were at different levels of risk for alcoholism. All participants completed a self-report questionnaire of lifetime drug and alcohol use, a timeline follow-back questionnaire for the previous 12 months, as well as several personality measures. Each participant also received two positron emission tomography (PET) [11C] raclopride scans after administration of either placebo or oral alcohol (1ml/kg body weight of 94% alcohol, 0.75g/kg; about 3 drinks in 15 minutes) in a randomized and counterbalanced design.

"We found that people vulnerable to alcoholism might experience an unusually large response in the brain's reward-seeking pathway when they take a drink," said Leyton. "This finding is compelling. For e
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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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