Craving contributes to the development of alcoholism. Craving consists of cognitive, emotional and behavioral elements that are related to a desire to drink alcohol and can be experienced during intoxication, withdrawal and prior to relapse.
Different types of craving are hypothesized to be associated with different neurotransmitter systems. For example, reward craving may be mediated by dopamine and opioids, obsessive craving by serotonin, and relief craving by glutamate.
‘Glutamate levels in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (LDLPFC) of patients are linked to alcohol-craving intensity in patients with alcohol use disorders (AUDs).’
This study used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) to examine the correlation between craving and glutamate levels in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (LDLPFC) of patients with alcohol use disorders (AUDs).
Fourteen participants (8 females, 6 males) underwent 1H-MRS to measure glutamate levels in the LDLPFC. Researchers also used the Pennsylvania Alcohol Craving Scale (PACS) and a research-validated interview method to quantify craving for alcohol and drinking patterns, respectively.
Although the study sample is small, these data suggest that glutamate levels in the LDLPFC are associated with alcohol-craving intensity in patients with AUDs.
Glutamate spectroscopy may be able to help identify biological measures of alcohol-craving intensity and help with treatment interventions.