Family history of alcoholism mediates the frontal response to alcoholic drink odors and alcohol in at-risk drinkers

Department of Neurology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 12/2009; 50(1):267-76. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.11.076
Source: PubMed


Although a family history of alcoholism is the strongest risk factor for developing alcohol dependence, there are few studies of the association between familial alcoholism and the human brain's reward system activity. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine how family history affects the brain's response to subjects' preferred alcoholic drink odors (AO) as compared to appetitive control odors (ApCO). Fourteen non-dependent heavy drinkers (HD) who were family history positive (FHP) participated, as did 12 HD who were family history negative (FHN). Subjects were imaged under both alcohol intoxication and placebo, using intravenous infusion and pharmacokinetic modeling to target a blood alcohol level of 50 mg%. Under placebo, HD-FHP had a larger medial frontal [AO>ApCO] effect than did HD-FHN. Alcohol intoxication dampened this response in the HD-FHP but potentiated it in the HD-FHN. This suggests that a family history of alcoholism and brain exposure to alcohol interact in heavy drinkers to differentially affect how the brain responds to alcohol cues.

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Available from: M. Dzemidzic, Mar 02, 2014
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    • "A family history of alcoholism is of particular interest in relation to the current topic as it is known that individuals with a family history of alcoholism show differential ERP components (e.g. Begleiter et al, 1984) and especially brain responses to stimuli associated with alcohol (Kareken et al., 2010). The students were evaluated twice, at an approximate one-year interval. "
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    • "Relative to healthy controls, individuals considered to be at high genetic risk for alcoholism have been found to demonstrate smaller volumes of the frontal cortex (Benegal et al. 2006; Hill et al. 2009) and amygdala (Hill et al. 2001; Benegal et al. 2006), both smaller (Benegal et al. 2006; Sjoerds et al. 2013) and larger (Hanson et al. 2010) volumes of the hippocampus and parahippocampal gyri, as well as altered white matter microstructure in tracts connecting prefrontal to cortical, striatal, and cerebellar regions (Herting et al. 2011; Herting et al. 2010). In addition, functional imaging studies have found altered activity in regions implicated in reward processing and cognitive control, including the amygdala (Glahn et al. 2007; Heitzeg et al. 2008), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and medial prefrontal regions (Acheson et al. 2009; Spadoni et al. 2008; Silveri et al. 2011; Kareken et al. 2010; Hill et al. 2007; Heitzeg et al. 2008; Heitzeg et al. 2010). While this field is still in its infancy, these studies provide evidence that individuals at risk for alcoholism demonstrate abnormalities in brain structure and function in the absence of any clinically significant problems with alcohol. "
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    • "Discrete 2-second periods of odorant (or sham) presentations were modeled in a within-subjects general linear model, using SPM's canonical hemodynamic response function (HRF). HRF onset was delayed 1 second after the sniff instruction based on prior empirical evidence that this optimizes the response of the piriform and orbital olfactory association areas (Kareken et al., 2010a). Time and dispersion derivatives of the HRF accounted for slight variations in response onset and duration. "
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