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Effect of naltrexone and ondansetron on alcohol cue-induced activation of the ventral striatum in alcohol-dependent people.

Author(s): Myrick H, Anton RF, Li X, Henderson S, Randall PK, Voronin K

Affiliation(s): Research and Development Service, Ralph H. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Charleston, SC, USA. myrickh@musc.edu

Publication date & source: 2008-04, Arch Gen Psychiatry., 65(4):466-75.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

CONTEXT: Medication for the treatment of alcoholism is currently not particularly robust. Neuroimaging techniques might predict which medications could be useful in the treatment of alcohol dependence. OBJECTIVE: To explore the effect of naltrexone, ondansetron hydrochloride, or the combination of these medications on cue-induced craving and ventral striatum activation. DESIGN: Functional brain imaging was conducted during alcohol cue presentation. SETTING: Participants were recruited from the general community following media advertisement. Experimental procedures were performed in the magnetic resonance imaging suite of a major training hospital and medical research institute. PATIENTS: Ninety non-treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent (by DSM-IV criteria) and 17 social drinking (< 14 drinks per week) paid volunteers recruited through advertisements at an academic center. INTERVENTIONS: A taste of alcohol and a series of alcohol-related pictures, neutral beverage pictures, and visual control images were provided to volunteers after 7 days of double-blind randomly assigned daily dosing with 50 mg of naltrexone (n = 23), 0.50 mg of ondansetron hydrochloride (n = 23), the combination of the 2 medications (n = 20), or matching placebos (n = 24). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Difference in brain blood oxygen level-dependent magnetic resonance when viewing alcohol pictures vs neutral beverage pictures with a particular focus on ventral striatum activity comparison across medication groups. Self-ratings of alcohol craving. RESULTS: The combination treatment decreased craving for alcohol. Naltrexone with (P = .02) or without (P = .049) ondansetron decreased alcohol cue-induced activation of the ventral striatum. Ondansetron by itself was similar to naltrexone and the combination in the overall analysis but intermediate in a region-specific analysis. CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with animal data that suggest that both naltrexone and ondansetron reduce alcohol-stimulated dopamine output in the ventral striatum, the current study found evidence that these medications, alone or in combination, could decrease alcohol cue-induced activation of the ventral striatum, consistent with their putative treatment efficacy.

Page last updated: 2008-06-22

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