Volumetric Magnetic Resonance Imaging Quantification of Longitudinal Brain Changes in Abstinent Alcoholics

Authors

  • Paula K. Shear,

    Corresponding author
    1. Psychiatry Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Palo Alto, California
    2. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
      Reprint requests: Paula K. Shear, Ph.D., Psychiatry Service 116A3), Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 3801 Miranda Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304.
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  • Terry L. Jernigan,

    1. Psychology Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, California
    2. Radiology Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, California
    3. Psychiatry Department, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, California.
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  • Nelson Butters

    1. Psychology Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, California
    2. Psychiatry Department, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, California.
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  • This study was supported in part by the Medical Research Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, by NIAAA Grant AA-00187, and by Grant MH18905. This study was completed at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, and University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Reprint requests: Paula K. Shear, Ph.D., Psychiatry Service 116A3), Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 3801 Miranda Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304.

Abstract

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain was performed on a group of 24 recently detoxified, male alcoholics approximately 1 month after their date of last drink. The imaging was repeated 3 months later, at which point 9 subjects had resumed drinking and 15 had maintained abstinence. Contrasts between these two drinking groups revealed that, despite comparable baseline values, the Abstainers exhibited volumetric white matter increases and cerebrospinal fluid reductions over the follow-up interval, whereas the Drinkers did not show significant change on either of these MRI indices. These results provide the first evidence suggestive of significant volumetric white matter increase with abstinence.

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