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Neuropsychopharmacology. 1996 Sep;15(3):288-95.

Cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and diazepam-binding inhibitor (DBI) during alcohol withdrawal and abstinence.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, USA.


The neuropeptides diazepam binding inhibitor (DBI) and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) elicit anxietylike symptoms when administered intracerebroventricularly to laboratory animals. Because of the similarities between the symptoms of certain anxiety states and the alcohol withdrawal syndrome, we hypothesized that increased secretion of either of these endogenous neuropeptides may, at least in part, be responsible for the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. We therefore measured DBI and CRH concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 15 alcohol-dependent patients during acute withdrawal (Day 1) and again at 3 week's abstinence (Day 21). In addition, plasma concentrations of cortisol were measured to evaluate the relationship between pituitary-adrenal axis activation and CSF CRH concentrations. CSF CRH (p < .04), but not CSF DBI, was significantly higher on Day 1 than on Day 21. Although there was a significant decrease in plasma cortisol from Day 1 to Day 21 (p < .001), a significant correlation between CSF CRH and plasma cortisol concentrations was not observed at either time point. Neither CSF neuropeptide correlated with clinical measures of withdrawal severity. These tentative findings may implicate CRH, but not DBI, in the pathogenesis of alcohol withdrawal. Alternately, the central release of CRH and DBI may not be adequately reflected in lumbar CSF.

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