Alcohol-Related Olfactory Cues Activate the Nucleus Accumbens and Ventral Tegmental Area in High-Risk Drinkers: Preliminary Findings

Authors

  • David A. Kareken,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Eric D. Claus,

    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Merav Sabri,

    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Mario Dzemidzic,

    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Ann E. K. Kosobud,

    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Alexander J. Radnovich,

    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Dwight Hector,

    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Vijay A. Ramchandani,

    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Sean J. O'Connor,

    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Mark Lowe,

    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Ting-Kai Li

    1. Departments of Neurology (DAK, EDC, MS, AEKK, AJR), Radiology (MD, ML), Medicine (VAR, T-KL), and Psychiatry (SJO), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Psychology Department (EDC), Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana; Graduate Program in Medical Neurobiology (AJR), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and Department of Psychology (DH), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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  • Supported by Grant P50 AA07611-13-P42.

Reprint requests: David A. Kareken, PhD, Neuropsychology Section (RI 1773), Department of Neurology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202; Fax: 317-274-1337; E-mail: dkareken@iupui.edu.

Abstract

Abstract: Background: The mesocorticolimbic dopamine system is implicated in motivation and reward and may be involved in the development of alcoholism.

Methods: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the blood oxygen level–dependent (BOLD) response to alcohol-related olfactory stimuli (AROS; odors of beer and whiskey) and non-alcohol-related olfactory stimuli (NAROS; odors of grass and leather) in 10 high-risk (HR) drinkers (average drinks per week, 19.99; SD, 6.99; all with ≥2 first- or second-degree alcoholic relatives) and 5 low-risk (LR) social drinking controls (drinks per week, 2.82; SD, 2.87; 1 subject had 1 second-degree alcoholic relative). Data were analyzed with SPM99 and random effects analysis by using regions of interest and corrected cluster statistics (p < 0.05) to focus on the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and ventral tegmental area (VTA).

Results: In HR subjects, there was a greater BOLD signal increase in the NAc during AROS than during clean air. BOLD signal increases during AROS were also greater in the NAc than the signal increases induced by NAROS. The AROS signal was significantly greater than the NAROS signal in a small number of voxels in the VTA. Finally, the AROS/NAROS difference signal was larger in HR drinkers in both the NAc and VTA.

Conclusions: Alcoholic olfactory cues may invoke the dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic system to a greater degree than nonalcoholic odors and could be effective tools in exploring the role of the dopamine system in susceptibility to alcoholism.

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