Increased steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone and pregnenolone levels in post-mortem brain samples of alcoholics
Self archived versionfinal draft
MetadataShow full item record
CitationKärkkäinen, Olli. Häkkinen, Merja R. Auriola, Seppo. Kautiainen, Hannu. Tiihonen, Jari. Storvik, Markus. (2016). Increased steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone and pregnenolone levels in post-mortem brain samples of alcoholics. ALCOHOL, 52, 63-70. 10.1016/j.alcohol.2016.03.002.
Intra-tissue levels of steroid hormones (e.g., dehydroepiandrosterone [DHEA], pregnenolone [PREGN], and testosterone [T]) may influence the pathological changes seen in neurotransmitter systems of alcoholic brains. Our aim was to compare levels of these steroid hormones between the post-mortem brain samples of alcoholics and non-alcoholic controls. We studied steroid levels with quantitative liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in post-mortem brain samples of alcoholics (N = 14) and non-alcoholic controls (N = 10). Significant differences were observed between study groups in DHEA and PREGN levels (p values 0.0056 and 0.019, respectively), but not in T levels. Differences between the study groups were most prominent in the nucleus accumbens (NAC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and anterior insula (AINS). DHEA levels were increased in most alcoholic subjects compared to controls. However, only a subgroup of alcoholics showed increased PREGN levels. Negative Spearman correlations between tissue levels of PREGN and previous reports of [3H]naloxone binding to μ-opioid receptors were observed in the AINS, ACC, NAC, and frontal cortex (R values between −0.6 and −0.8; p values ≤ 0.002), suggesting an association between the opioid system and brain PREGN levels. Although preliminary, and from relatively small diagnostic groups, these results show significantly increased levels of DHEA and PREGN in the brains of alcoholics, and could be associated with the pathology of alcoholism.