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Positron Emission Tomography Shows Elevated Cannabinoid CB 1 Receptor Binding in Men with Alcohol Dependence
Article first published online: 2 MAY 2012
Copyright © 2012 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 36, Issue 12, pages 2104–2109, December 2012
How to Cite
Neumeister, A., Normandin, M. D., Murrough, J. W., Henry, S., Bailey, C. R., Luckenbaugh, D. A., Tuit, K., Zheng, M.-Q., Galatzer-Levy, I. R., Sinha, R., Carson, R. E., Potenza, M. N. and Huang, Y. (2012), Positron Emission Tomography Shows Elevated Cannabinoid CB 1 Receptor Binding in Men with Alcohol Dependence. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 36: 2104–2109. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01815.x
- Issue published online: 11 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 2 MAY 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 5 MAR 2012
- Manuscript Received: 21 DEC 2011
- National Institutes of Health. Grant Numbers: UL1-DE019586, PL1-DA024859
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Grant Numbers: RAA017540B, RAA017540Y, RAA018329B
- Alcohol Dependence;
- Brain Imaging;
- Positron Emission Tomography;
- Endogenous Cannabinoids;
- CB 1 Receptor
Several lines of evidence link cannabinoid (CB) type 1 (CB 1) receptor-mediated endogenous CB (eCB) signaling to the etiology of alcohol dependence (AD). However, to date, only peripheral measures of eCB function have been collected in living humans with AD and no human in vivo data on the potentially critical role of the brain CB 1 receptor in AD have been published. This is an important gap in the literature, because recent therapeutic developments suggest that these receptors could be targeted for the treatment for AD.
Medication-free participants were scanned during early abstinence 4 weeks after their last drink. Using positron emission tomography (PET) with a high-resolution research tomograph and the CB 1 receptor selective radiotracer [11 C]OMAR, we determined [11 C]OMAR volume of distribution ( V T) values, a measure of CB 1 receptor density, in a priori selected brain regions in men with AD (n = 8, age 37.4 ± 7.9 years; 5 smokers) and healthy control (HC) men (n = 8, age 32.5 ± 6.9 years; all nonsmokers). PET images reconstructed using the MOLAR algorithm with hardware motion correction were rigidly aligned to the subject-specific magnetic resonance (MR) image, which in turn was warped to an MR template. Time–activity curves (TACs) were extracted from the dynamic PET data using a priori selected regions of interest delineated in the MR template space.
In AD relative to HC, [11 C]OMAR V T values were elevated by approximately 20% (p = 0.023) in a circuit, including the amygdala, hippocampus, putamen, insula, anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, and orbitofrontal cortex. Age, body mass index, or smoking status did not influence the outcome.
These findings agree with preclinical evidence and provide the first, albeit still preliminary in vivo evidence suggesting a role for brain CB 1 receptors in AD. The current study design does not answer the important question of whether elevated CB 1 receptors are a preexisting vulnerability factor for AD or whether elevations develop as a consequence of AD.