Family History of Alcoholism Does Not Influence Adrenocortical Hyporesponsiveness in Abstinent Alcohol-Dependent Men

Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas 75390-8564, USA.
The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (Impact Factor: 1.78). 02/2008; 34(2):151-60. DOI: 10.1080/00952990701877011
Source: PubMed


Early abstinence in alcohol-dependent subjects is marked by adrenocortical hyporesponsivity. However, it is uncertain whether the blunted response is primarily attributable to a genetic vulnerability or to the chronic abuse of alcohol. In the present study, the authors investigated the influence of a family history (FH) of alcoholism upon suppressed glucocorticoid reactivity.
Twenty-two abstinent alcohol-dependent and 14 control men were studied. The cortisol response was assessed in 11 patients following oCRH infusion (.4 ug/kg) and in a separate group of 11 patients following cosyntropin infusion (.01 ug/kg) preceded by high-dose intravenous dexamethasone (8 mg). FH, as determined by self-report, was assessed using two different methods: history of parental alcoholism and number of alcohol-dependent first- and second-degree relatives.
Neither a parental history or familial loading of alcoholism had a significant effect upon glucocorticoid responsivity in abstinent alcohol-dependent men.
Adrenocorticol responsiveness in recently abstinent alcohol-dependent men does not appear to reflect a preexisting biologic vulnerability to alcoholism.

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