Childhood Maltreatment Affects the Serotonergic System in Male Alcohol-Dependent Individuals
Article first published online: 5 FEB 2013
Copyright © 2013 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 37, Issue 5, pages 757–762, May 2013
How to Cite
Berglund, K. J., Balldin, J., Berggren, U., Gerdner, A. and Fahlke, C. (2013), Childhood Maltreatment Affects the Serotonergic System in Male Alcohol-Dependent Individuals. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37: 757–762. doi: 10.1111/acer.12023
- Issue published online: 24 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 5 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 AUG 2012
- Manuscript Received: 9 MAY 2012
- Alcohol Research Council of the Swedish Alcohol Retailing Monopoly. Grant Number: 0040
- Health and Medical Care Committee of the Region Västra Götaland. Grant Number: 226651
- Male Alcohol-Dependent Individuals;
- Childhood Maltreatment;
- Central Serotonergic Neurotransmission;
- PRL Response to Citalopram
Reduced central serotonergic neurotransmission has been demonstrated in individuals with excessive alcohol consumption and/or alcohol dependence. Childhood maltreatment has also been found to have a negative impact on central serotonergic neurotransmission. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of childhood maltreatment on central serotonergic dysfunction in alcohol-dependent individuals.
Adult men with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence (n = 18) were recruited from outpatient treatment units for alcoholism. Central serotonergic neurotransmission was assessed by a neuroendocrine method, that is, the prolactin (PRL) response to the selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitor citalopram. Childhood maltreatment was assessed retrospectively by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire.
Alcohol-dependent individuals with childhood experience of emotional abuse had significantly lower PRL response compared with those without such abuse (3 ± 5 and 64 ± 24 mU/l, respectively; t = 6.51, p < 0.001). Among those who reported childhood emotional abuse, 4 of 7 individuals had flat PRL responses in comparison with none in those with no report of such abuse (p < 0.01).
This is the first study to show that self-reported childhood maltreatment, in particular emotional abuse, in male alcohol-dependent individuals is associated with a quite dramatic (more than 90%) reduction in central serotonergic neurotransmission. It should, however, be noted that the number of individuals is relatively small, and the results should therefore be considered as preliminary.