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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Feb;38(3):414-22. doi: 10.1038/npp.2012.195. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

Interacting effects of naltrexone and OPRM1 and DAT1 variation on the neural response to alcohol cues.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Variation at a single nucleotide polymorphism in the μ-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1), A118G (Asn40Asp), may moderate naltrexone (NTX) effects in alcohol dependence. Both NTX and A118G variation have also been reported to affect alcohol cue-elicited brain activation. This study investigated whether sub-acute NTX treatment and A118G genotype interacted in their effects on cue-elicited activation of the ventral striatum (VS), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Secondarily, variation at a variable number tandem repeat polymorphism in the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1/SLC6A3), which has been associated with increased reward-related activation in VS, was analyzed as a moderator of medication and A118G effects. Seventy-four non-treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent individuals, half preselected to carry at least one copy of the A118G G (Asp) allele, were randomized to NTX (50 mg) or placebo for 7 days, and performed an fMRI alcohol cue reactivity task on day 6. Region-of-interest analyses indicated no main effects of medication or A118G genotype. However, these factors interacted in their effects on OFC activation, such that, among NTX-treated individuals, G-allele carriers had less activation than A-allele homozygotes. DAT1 variation also moderated medication/A118G effects. There was a three-way interaction between medication and A118G and DAT1 genotypes on VS activation, such that, among G-allele carriers who received NTX, DAT1 10-repeat-allele (10R) homozygotes had less activation than 9-repeat-allele (9R) carriers. Further, 10R homozygotes who received NTX had less mPFC activation than 9R carriers. Polymorphic variation in OPRM1 and DAT1 should be considered in future studies of NTX, particularly regarding its effects on reward processing.

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