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The association of non-drug-related Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer effect in nucleus accumbens with relapse in alcohol dependence: a replication

  • Ke Chen
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author: Ke Chen;
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Campus Mitte, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
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  • Florian Schlagenhauf
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Campus Mitte, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
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  • Miriam Sebold
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Campus Mitte, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany

    Department for Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
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  • Sören Kuitunen-Paul
    Affiliations
    Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany

    Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
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  • Hao Chen
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
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  • Quentin J.M. Huys
    Affiliations
    Division of Psychiatry, University College London, London, United Kingdom

    Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, University College London, London, United Kingdom
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  • Andreas Heinz
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Campus Mitte, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
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  • Michael N. Smolka
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
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  • Ulrich S. Zimmermann
    Affiliations
    University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany

    Department of Addiction Medicine and Psychotherapy, kbo Isar-Amper-Klinikum Region München, Germany
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  • Maria Garbusow
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Campus Mitte, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
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Published:September 22, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2022.09.017

      Abstract

      Background

      The Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer (PIT) paradigm measures the effects of Pavlovian conditioned cues on instrumental behavior in the laboratory. A previous study in our research group observed activity in the left nucleus accumbens (NAcc) elicited by a non-drug-related PIT task across alcohol-dependent (AD) patients and healthy controls, and the left NAcc PIT effect differentiated patients who subsequently relapsed from who remained abstinent. In the present study, we aimed to examine whether such effects were present in a larger subsequently collected sample.

      Methods

      A total of 129 recently detoxified AD patients (21 females) and 74 healthy, age- and sex-matched controls (12 females) performing a PIT task during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) were examined. After task assessments, patients were followed up for 6 months. Forty-seven patients relapsed and 37 remained abstinent.

      Results

      We found a significant behavioral non-drug-related PIT effect and PIT-related activity in the NAcc across all participants. Moreover, subsequent relapsers showed stronger behavioral and left NAcc PIT effects compared to abstainers. These findings are consistent with the previous findings.

      Conclusions

      Behavioral non-drug-related PIT and neural PIT correlates are associated with prospective relapse risk in alcohol dependence. This study replicated previous findings and provide evidence for the clinical relevance of PIT mechanisms with the treatment outcome in alcohol dependence. The observed difference between prospective relapsers and abstainers in NAcc PIT effect in our study is overall small. Future studies are needed to further elucidate the mechanisms and the possible modulators of neural PIT in relapse in alcohol dependence.

      Keywords

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