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Monday, November 19, 2012

Neurometabolite concentration and clinical features of chronic alcohol use: A proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study

Chronic, heavy alcohol consumption may affect the concentration of neurometabolites assessed with proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS). 

We investigated the largest sample reported to date (N=213) with the primary goal of determining how specific clinical features impact neurometabolite concentrations in an anterior cingulate gray matter voxel. This community dwelling sample included both treatment seeking and non-treatment seeking individuals. A healthy control group (N=66) was matched for age and education. 

In multivariate analyses predicting neurometabolite concentrations, the heavy drinking group had greater concentrations overall. An age by group interaction was noted, as group difference across neurometabolites increased with age. More years drinking, but not more drinks per drinking day (DPDD), predicted greater concentrations of choline-containing compounds (Cho), creatine-phosphocreatine (Cre), glutamate–glutamine (Glx), and n-acetyl-aspartate (NAA). 

The effects of other clinical variables (depression, cigarette smoking, marijuana use) were negligible. After controlling for DPDD and years drinking, treatment-seeking status had no impact on neurometabolites. In the very oldest portion of the sample (mean age=50), however, a negative relationship was seen between NAA and years drinking. 

These results suggest that the nature of neurometabolite abnormalities in chronic heavy drinkers may vary as a function of duration of abuse.

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