Imaging Cannabinoid CB1 Receptors in Alcohol Dependence
The cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor is a protein found in the brain that is involved with the effects of marijuana; it may also play a role in the effects of alcohol dependence and withdrawal. Earlier animal studies have shown that although long-term alcohol use decreases the number of CB1 receptors in the brain, the number returns to normal after alcohol use stops. This study will use positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to trace a radioactive chemical called [11C]MePPEP, which can locate and measure the number of CB1 receptors in the brain. Researchers will study the CB1 receptors in the brains of people with alcohol dependence, and compare the results to the CB1 receptors in the brains of people without alcohol dependence. The results of this study will be used to further research into appropriate treatment procedures for alcohol dependence.
This study will include 30 men with alcohol dependence and 50 men without alcohol dependence. All of the men must be between 18 and 65 years of age. Participants in both groups must not have any medical conditions that will prevent them from undergoing PET or MRI scans.
For the PET scan, participants will be injected with a small amount of [11C]MePPEP and will then be brought to the PET scanner. The scan will take between 3 and 4 hours, but participants will be allowed to take breaks over the course of the scan. The MRI scan will not require any injections and will take approximately 1 hour to complete.
Participants without alcohol dependence will make three visits to the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. Blood and urine samples will be taken during one visit, and participants will arrange to have an MRI scan on one visit and a PET scan on the other visit, in whichever order they prefer.
Participants with alcohol dependence will undergo two PET scans: the first will be performed between 3 and 7 days after the participant last consumed alcohol, and the second will be performed approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the first scan (with no alcohol consumption permitted in the interval). Participants will alcohol dependence will also undergo an MRI scan and will provide blood and urine samples.
|Study Design:||Time Perspective: Prospective|
|Official Title:||Imaging Cannabinoid CB1 Receptors in Alcohol Dependence|
|Study Start Date:||December 2008|
|Estimated Study Completion Date:||August 2014|
Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is a chronic medical illness with a relapsing course and a major public health problem. Alcoholism is clinically characterized by periods of uncontrolled alcohol consumption and withdrawal, during which counter-adaptive mechanisms such as stress and dysphoria are recruited. Neurobiological research into the pathophysiology of the illness suggest that both the primary rewarding effects of ethanol as well as neuroadaptive changes that occur during chronic alcohol exposure involve persistent changes in various brain neurotransmission systems, such as the dopamine, glutamate, and gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) systems. Recent views of the illness also emphasize the long-lasting recruitment of the brain stress system. Unfortunately, despite this progress, available pharmacological agents for the treatment of alcoholism are too few and not sufficiently efficacious.
The brain endocannabinoid (EC) system is a recently discovered brain neurotransmission system, which involves endogenous cannabinoid agents (ECs) that act upon specific receptors (CB1 and CB2). CB1 receptor is abundant in the human brain and acts as an inhibitory modulator of classical neurotransmitters. ECs and CB1 receptors appear to modulate the brain reward system, and animal studies have demonstrated an important role of CB1 receptor stimulation in alcohol- and drug-related behaviors. During chronic alcohol exposure, EC levels in the brain are elevated and CB1 receptor levels are consequently reduced; this appears to be reversible following withdrawal. Animal studies suggest that CB1 receptor blockade in the abstinent phase may reduce alcohol craving and relapse. To what extent ECs and CB1 receptors are involved in the pathophysiology of alcohol dependence in humans is currently unknown. The lack of suitable methods to reliably quantify CB1 receptors in the living human brain has to date hindered the progress in this field.
In this protocol, we outline studies aiming at elucidating the role of CB1 receptors in alcohol and cannabis dependence by using positron emission tomography (PET) and the recently developed radiotracer for CB1 receptors, [(18)F]FMPEP-d2. The aim of this project is to explore CB1 receptor abnormalities at various stages of alcohol and cannabis dependence in humans. For the studies in alcohol dependence, the primary hypothesis is that CB1 receptors are downregulated during chronic alcohol exposure and upregulated during extended abstinence. For the studies in cannabis users, our primary hypothesis is that CB1 receptors are downregulated during chronic cannabis use and upregulated during extended abstinence. Insight into the role of CB1 receptor function in human alcoholism and in chronic cannabis use may help guide future development of pharmacotherapies.
Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00816439
|United States, Maryland|
|National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike|
|Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892|
|Principal Investigator:||Robert B Innis, M.D.||National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)|