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Loss of Control of Alcohol Use and Severity of Alcohol Dependence in Non-Treatment-Seeking Heavy Drinkers Are Related to Lower Glutamate in Frontal White Matter

Authors

  • Gabriele Ende,

    Corresponding author
    • Department Neuroimaging , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Derik Hermann,

    1. Department of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Traute Demirakca,

    1. Department Neuroimaging , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Mareen Hoerst,

    1. Department Neuroimaging , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Nuran Tunc-Skarka,

    1. Department Neuroimaging , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Wolfgang Weber-Fahr,

    1. Department Neuroimaging , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Svenja Wichert,

    1. Department of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Juri Rabinstein,

    1. Department of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Ulrich Frischknecht,

    1. Department of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Karl Mann,

    1. Department of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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    • These authors contributed equally to this study.

  • Sabine Vollstädt-Klein

    1. Department of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine , Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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    • These authors contributed equally to this study.


Reprint requests: Gabriele Ende, Dr. rer nat., Department of Neuroimaging, Central Institute of Mental Health, University of Heidelberg, PO Box 12 21 20, D-68072 Mannheim, Germany; Tel.: 49 62117032971; Fax: 49 6211703702971; E-mail: gabi.ende@zi-mannheim.de

Abstract

Background

The development and maintenance of alcohol use disorders (AUD) have been hypothesized to be associated with an imbalance of glutamate (GLU) homeostasis. White matter (WM) loss, especially in anterior brain regions, has been reported in alcohol dependence, which may involve disturbances in both myelin and axonal integrity. Frontal lobe dysfunction plays an important role in addiction, because it is suggested to be associated with the loss of control over substance use. This study investigated magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)-detectable Glu levels in frontal WM of non-treatment-seeking heavy drinkers and its associations with AUD symptoms.

Methods

Single-voxel MR spectra optimized for Glu assessment (TE 80 ms) were acquired at 3T from a frontal WM voxel in a group of heavy drinking, non-treatment-seeking subjects in comparison with a group of subjects with only light alcohol consumption.

Results

The results corroborate previous findings of increased total choline in heavy drinking subjects. A negative association of Glu levels with severity of alcohol dependence and especially loss of control over time and amount of alcohol intake was observed.

Conclusions

In contrast to the rather unspecific rise in choline-containing compounds, low Glu in frontal WM may be specific for the shift from nondependent heavy drinking to dependence and does not reflect a simple effect of the amount of alcohol consumption alone.

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