Regional cerebellar metabolism (18FDG PET) predicts the clinical outcome of the short-term inpatient treatment of alcohol addiction.

OBJECTIVES: The acute and maintenance treatment of alcohol addiction represents the clinical challenge. The aims of our study were to evaluate the influence of alcohol consumption on regional brain metabolism and the predictive value of PET by means of the duration and quality of remission which followed the sub-acute treatment.

METHODS: PET investigation with 18 fluoro-deoxyglucose (18FDG) were performed in detoxified patients with alcohol dependence at the end of short-term treatment. Abstinence was evaluated in patients during the one year follow-up period.

RESULTS: We detected the positive correlation between 18FDG uptake in the cerebellar vermis (FWE, p<0.05) and duration of abstinence within one year.

DISCUSSION: Our findings support the assumption that the cerebellum would be involved in the maintenance of abstinence in alcohol dependent subjects. Cerebellar connections with cortical areas critical for addiction such as frontal, parietal, temporal regions would mediate the influence of the cerebellum on emotional systems related to addiction.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study is the first to document that the cerebellum and particularly the vermis is involved in the clinical outcome in terms of abstinence during one year. Our findings support the role of the cerebellum in addiction and the possibility to predict therapeutic outcome.

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