Stressful life events are associated with striatal dopamine receptor availability in alcohol dependence

  • M. SeboldEmail author
  • G. Spitta
  • T. Gleich
  • T. Dembler-Stamm
  • O. Butler
  • K. Zacharias
  • S. Aydin
  • M. Garbusow
  • M. Rapp
  • F. Schubert
  • R. Buchert
  • J. Gallinat
  • A. Heinz
Psychiatry and Preclinical Psychiatric Studies - Short communication


Stress plays a key role in modulating addictive behavior and can cause relapse following periods of abstinence. Common effects of stress and alcohol on the dopaminergic system have been suggested, although the precise mechanisms are unclear. Here, we investigated 20 detoxified alcohol-dependent patients and 19 matched healthy controls and assessed striatal D2/D3 availability using [18F]-fallypride positron emission tomography and stressful life events. We found a strong association between striatal D2/D3 availability and stress in patients, but not in healthy controls. Interestingly, we found increased D2/D3 receptor availability in patients with higher stress levels. This mirrors complex interactions between stress and alcohol intake in animal studies and emphasizes the importance to investigate stress exposure in neurobiological studies of addiction.

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Stressful life events Dopamine D2/D3 receptor Positron emission tomography Striatum Alcohol dependence 



This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG, FOR 1617: grants HE 2597/14-1, HE 2597/15-1, HE 2597/14 -2, HE 2597/15-2, GA 707/6-1, RA 1047/2-1, RA 1047/2-2).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Sebold
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • G. Spitta
    • 1
  • T. Gleich
    • 1
  • T. Dembler-Stamm
    • 1
  • O. Butler
    • 3
  • K. Zacharias
    • 1
  • S. Aydin
    • 4
  • M. Garbusow
    • 1
  • M. Rapp
    • 2
  • F. Schubert
    • 4
  • R. Buchert
    • 5
  • J. Gallinat
    • 6
  • A. Heinz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Campus Mitte (CCM)Charité- Universitätsmedizin BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department for Social and Preventive MedicineUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  3. 3.Center for Lifespan PsychologyMax Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)Braunschweig, BerlinGermany
  5. 5.Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Nuclear MedicineUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  6. 6.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE)HamburgGermany

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