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

  • Anne R. Lingford-Hughes (a1), P. Acton (a2), S. Gacinovic (a3), J. Suckling (a1), G. F. Busatto (a4), S. J. A. Boddington (a1), E. Bullmore (a2), P. W. Woodruff (a1), D. C. Costa (a2), L. S. Pilowsky (a5), P. J. Ell (a1), E. J. Marshall (a1) and R. W. Kerwin (a1)...

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.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr Anne Lingford-Hughes, Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London, SES 8AF, E-mail: sphaarl@iop.bpmf.ac.uk

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

  • Anne R. Lingford-Hughes (a1), P. Acton (a2), S. Gacinovic (a3), J. Suckling (a1), G. F. Busatto (a4), S. J. A. Boddington (a1), E. Bullmore (a2), P. W. Woodruff (a1), D. C. Costa (a2), L. S. Pilowsky (a5), P. J. Ell (a1), E. J. Marshall (a1) and R. W. Kerwin (a1)...
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