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PET Striatum Dopamine Release Deficits With Family History of Alcoholism

(A. Abi-Dargham)

This project is designed to assess effects of alcohol challenge and a monetary incentive delay task (MIDT) on dopamine release as measured with [11C]raclopride displacement.

Alcohol challenge

Each subject received 2 PET scans with [11C]raclopride: one after a placebo drink and one after an alcoholic drink. The alcohol challenge resulted in a significant [11C]raclopride displacement in all striatal subregions for the sample as a whole. The largest change was found in the ventral striatum.

When separated by sex, males still showed statistically significant [11C]raclopride displacement in all striatal ROI, with the greatest change also in the ventral striatum, while women only showed significant [11C]raclopride displacement in the ventral striatum and the precommissural putamen. Ventrostriatal dopamine release in men, but not in women, showed a significant positive correlation to alcohol-induced measures of subjective activation. Furthermore, we found a significant negative correlation between drinking frequency and ventrostriatal [11C]raclopride displacement in men.


In parallel with the alcohol challenge study we also examined the effect of the Monetary Incentive Delay Task (MIDT) (Knutson et al. 2000), a task classically used in fMRI to measure activation related to reward, on [11C]raclopride binding across the striatal substructures measured with PET. This work is in collaboration with Godfrey Pearlson. This work is ongoing.