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Reduced levels of GABA-benzodiazepine receptor in alcohol dependency in the absence of grey matter atrophy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 January 2018

Anne R. Lingford-Hughes
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London
P. Acton
Affiliation:
Institute of Nuclear Medicine, UCL Medical School, London
S. Gacinovic
Affiliation:
King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London
J. Suckling
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London
G. F. Busatto
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, London
S. J. A. Boddington
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London
E. Bullmore
Affiliation:
Institute of Nuclear Medicine, UCL Medical School, London
P. W. Woodruff
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London
D. C. Costa
Affiliation:
Institute of Nuclear Medicine, UCL Medical School, London
L. S. Pilowsky
Affiliation:
The Maudsley and Institute of Psychiatry
P. J. Ell
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London
E. J. Marshall
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London
R. W. Kerwin
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Background

We tested the hypothesis that reduced levels of the GABA-benzodiazepine receptor occur in alcohol dependency using single photon emission tomography (SPET) and the specific GABA-benzodiazepine ligand, 123l-iomazenil.

Method

Neurologically and cognitively unimpaired abstinent alcohol-dependent (n=12) and non-alcohol-dependent male subjects (n=14) underwent a 123l–iomazenil SPET scan. SPET and magnetic resonance images were co-registered and voxel-based statistical tests performed. Subjects' clinical and alcohol history were obtained with standard questionnaires. The relationships between clinical and alcohol variables and the regional level of GABA-benzodiazepine receptors were investigated using multiple regression analysis.

Results

Abstinent alcohol-dependent subjects had decreased levels of GABA-benzodiazepine receptor compared with non-alcohol-dependent subjects within the frontal, parietal and temporal cortices, including regions in which grey matter atrophy was absent.

Conclusions

Alcohol dependency is associated with reduced GABA-benzodiazepine receptor levels in the absence of grey matter atrophy in some cortical regions, such as within the parietal lobe. Regional variability of reduction in GABA-benzodiazepine receptors demonstrates that alcohol does not have a global, toxic effect on the brain.

Type
Papers
Copyright
Copyright © 1998 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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