Get access

Alterations in Brain Serotonin Synthesis in Male Alcoholics Measured Using Positron Emission Tomography

Authors

  • Masami Nishikawa,

    1. From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University (MN, MD, YS); Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Addictions Unit, McGill University Health Centre (DC, JP-B, JN, KG); and Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo (MN, YS, HK).
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Mirko Diksic,

    1. From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University (MN, MD, YS); Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Addictions Unit, McGill University Health Centre (DC, JP-B, JN, KG); and Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo (MN, YS, HK).
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Yojiro Sakai,

    1. From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University (MN, MD, YS); Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Addictions Unit, McGill University Health Centre (DC, JP-B, JN, KG); and Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo (MN, YS, HK).
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Hiroaki Kumano,

    1. From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University (MN, MD, YS); Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Addictions Unit, McGill University Health Centre (DC, JP-B, JN, KG); and Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo (MN, YS, HK).
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Dara Charney,

    1. From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University (MN, MD, YS); Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Addictions Unit, McGill University Health Centre (DC, JP-B, JN, KG); and Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo (MN, YS, HK).
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jorge Palacios-Boix,

    1. From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University (MN, MD, YS); Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Addictions Unit, McGill University Health Centre (DC, JP-B, JN, KG); and Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo (MN, YS, HK).
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Juan Negrete,

    1. From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University (MN, MD, YS); Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Addictions Unit, McGill University Health Centre (DC, JP-B, JN, KG); and Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo (MN, YS, HK).
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kathryn Gill

    1. From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University (MN, MD, YS); Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Addictions Unit, McGill University Health Centre (DC, JP-B, JN, KG); and Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo (MN, YS, HK).
    Search for more papers by this author

Reprint requests: Dr Kathryn Gill, Addictions Unit, McGill University Health Centre, 1547 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1B3; Fax: 514-934-8262; E-mail: kathryn.gill@mcgill.ca

Abstract

Background:  A consistent association between low endogenous 5HT function and high alcohol preference has been observed, and a number of serotonergic manipulations (uptake blockers, agonists) alter alcohol consumption in animals and humans. Studies have also shown an inverse relationship between alcohol use and cerebrospinal fluid levels of serotonin metabolites, suggesting that chronic alcohol consumption produces alterations in serotonin synthesis or release.

Methods:  The objective of the study was to characterize regional brain serotonin synthesis in nondepressed chronic alcoholics at treatment entry in comparison to normal nonalcoholic controls using PET and the tracer α-[11C]-methyl-l-tryptophan.

Results:  Comparisons of the alcoholics and controls by SPM found that there were significant differences in the rate of serotonin synthesis between groups. Serotonin synthesis was significantly lower among alcoholics in Brodmann Area (BA) 9, 10, and 32. However, serotonin synthesis among the alcoholics group was significantly higher than controls at BA19 in the occipital lobe and around the transverse temporal convolution in the left superior temporal gyrus (BA41). In addition, there were correlations between regional serotonin synthesis and a quantity-frequency measure of alcohol consumption. Regions showing a significant negative correlation with QF included the bilateral rectus gyri (BA11) in the orbitofrontal area, the bilateral medial frontal area (BA6), and the right amygdala.

Conclusions:  Current alcoholism is associated with serotonergic abnormalities in brain regions that are known to be involved in planning, judgment, self-control, and emotional regulation.

Ancillary