We examined whether excessive alcohol consumption was related to changes in plasma levels of noradrenaline (NA) and whether these changes recover following abstinence. We also explored whether there were differences in NA levels between Type I and Type II alcoholics and controls during active drinking and abstinence. Plasma concentrations of NA were determined in (1) 27 Caucasian men with alcohol dependence who were regularly drinking (active drinkers) within 24 hours of hospitalization, (2) 29 Caucasian alcohol-dependent men who were in remission (abstinent for a minimum of three months), and (3) 28 race- and gender-matched healthy controls. NA concentrations were significantly higher in actively drinking alcohol-dependent subjects compared to those in remission and controls. While Type I and Type II alcoholic individuals differed across clinical measures, NA levels were similar in the two subtypes. Both subtypes showed an elevation in NA levels during active drinking compared to controls, but NA levels did not differ between the two subtypes and controls during remission. The findings indicate that chronic exposure to alcohol may lead to disturbances in NA activity that may manifest in early abstinence. However, the changes in NA activity appears to normalize after a longer period of abstinence. Alterations in NA activity do not seem to be specific for Type I or Type II subtypes of alcoholism.
Recommended CitationPatkar, Ashwin A.; Marsden, Charles A.; Naik, Prakash C.; Kendall, David A.; Gopalakrishnan, Raman; Vergare, Michael J.; and Weinstein, Stephen P., "Differences in peripheral noradrenergic function among actively drinking and abstinent alcohol-dependent individuals." (2004). Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Faculty Papers. Paper 46.