Family history of alcohol dependence and gray matter abnormalities in non-alcoholic adults

Z. Sjoerds, M.J. van Tol, W. van den Brink, N.J.A. van der Wee, M.A. van Buchem, A. Aleman, B.W.J.H. Penninx, D.J. Veltman

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Objectives. Alcohol-use disorders in adolescents are associated with gray matter (GM) abnormalities suggesting neurotoxicity by alcohol. However, recently similar GM abnormalities were found in non-drinking children with a family history (FH) of alcohol dependence (AD). The question thus rises whether these abnormalities represent a transient delay in brain maturation or a persistent risk factor for developing neuropsychiatric disorders, rather than a (neurotoxic) consequence of AD. This study investigated whether a FH of AD in non-drinking adults is associated with abnormal GM-volumes similar to those observed in drinking and non-drinking adolescents with a FH of AD. Methods. GM-images were analyzed using Voxel-Based Morphometry in non-alcoholics with (FH+; N = 36) and without (FH-; N = 107) familial AD. Additionally we controlled for possible confounders: diagnosis of depression/anxiety, childhood trauma and familial depression/anxiety. Results. Smaller GM-volumes were shown in the right parahippocampal gyrus in FH+ compared with FH-. Results were unaffected by confounders. Conclusions. We demonstrated an effect of familial AD in non-alcoholic adults on GM volume in the parahippocampal gyrus, similar to drinking and non-drinking FH+ adolescents. These findings suggest that GM abnormalities in the parahippocampal gyrus represent a persistent biological susceptibility for AD or related psychopathology and not neurotoxicity of alcohol or delayed brain maturation. © 2013 Informa Healthcare.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)565-573
    JournalWorld Journal of Biological Psychiatry
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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