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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1999 Aug;23(8):1336-41.

CSF monoamine metabolite and beta endorphin levels in recently detoxified alcoholics and healthy controls: prediction of alcohol cue-induced craving?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.



Abnormalities in central neurotransmitter systems have been described in alcohol-dependent individuals and may contribute to alcohol craving. This study compared cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of monoamine metabolites and beta endorphin levels in samples from early-onset alcohol-dependent patients (n = 20), late-onset alcohol-dependent patients (n = 14), and healthy controls (n = 23). It also evaluated whether these CSF measures levels predicted the degree of craving experienced in response to an alcohol cue.


Individuals meeting DSM-III and -IV R-criteria for alcohol dependence, 1 to 3 months postdetoxification, and healthy controls underwent a lumbar puncture. Patients also completed a cue exposure test day between 3 and 15 days later.


Alcohol-dependent patients had lower CSF levels of the norepinephrine metabolite MHPG compared with the healthy subjects, but this difference disappeared when differences in age between the groups were accounted for. No other group comparisons between patients and healthy subjects reached significance. CSF levels of the dopamine metabolite HVA were significantly higher in the early-onset patients compared with the late-onset patients and controls. The CSF measures did not predict the precue levels of craving, or the increase in craving after alcohol cue exposure.


These results are inconclusive about the role of monoaminergic dysregulation in recovering alcoholics. They also question the utility of these CSF measures to predict alcohol cue reactivity in patients who have been sober at least 1 month.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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