Neurophysiological Measures and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD): Hypothesizing Links between Clinical Severity Index and Molecular Neurobiological Patterns

Background: In 1987, Cloninger proposed a clinical description and classification of different personality traits genetically defined and independent from each other. Moreover, he elaborated a specific test the TCI to investigate these traits/states. The study of craving in Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) assumed a greater significance, since ever more data seems to suggest a direct correlation between high levels of craving and a higher risk of relapse in alcoholics. Thus, our study aim is to explore the possible correlations among TCI linked molecular neurobiological pattern(s), craving and alcohol addiction severity measures in a sample of Italian alcoholics.

Materials and Methods: 191 alcoholics were recruited in a Day Hospital (DH) setting at the Alcohol Addiction Program Latium Region Referral Center, Sapienza University of Rome. After 7 days detoxification treatment a psychodiagnostic protocol was administered, including TCI, VAS-C, ASI and SADQ. All patients signed an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved informed consent.

Results: Principally, we detected a significant positive correlation between HA-scale scores and the VAS scale: increasing in HA-scale corresponds to an increase in craving perception for both intensity (r=0.310; p ≤ 0.001) and frequency (r=0.246; p ≤ 0.001). Moreover, perception of dependence severity, measured with SADQ was also found to be significantly associated positively to both HA-scale (r=0.246; p ≤ 0.001) and NS-scale (r=0.224; p ≤ 0.01). While, for character scales, Persistence (r=-0.195; p=.008) and Self-directedness (r=-0.294; p ≤ 0.001) was negatively associated with ASI linked to alcohol problems. Self-directedness was also negatively correlated with ASI linked to family and social problems (r=-0.349; p ≤ 0.001), employment and support problems (r=-0.220; p=0.003) and psychiatric problems (r=-0.358; p ≤ 0.001). Cooperativeness was a negative correlate with Legal Problems (r=-0.173; p=0.019). and Self-Transcendence was positive correlated with Medical Problems (r=0.276; p ≤ 0.001)

Conclusions: In view of recent addiction neurobiological theories, such as the “Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)” and the Koob model, our data could suggest that our cohort of patients could possibly be in a particular stage of the course of their addiction history. Thus, if our hypothesis will be confirmed, the TCI-based assessment of alcoholics would allow an optimization of the treatment. Clinicians understanding these newer concepts will be able to translate this information to their patients and potentially enhance clinical outcome (s), because it could suggest a functional hypothesis of neurotransmitter circuits that helps to frame the patient in his/her history of addiction.

Authors: Mario Vitali, Carmen Napolitano, Marlene Oscar-Berman, Simona Flamminii Minuto, Gemma Battagliese, Maria Luisa Attilia, Eric R Braverman, Marina Romeo, Kenneth Blum and Mauro Ceccant

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