Alcohol consumption during adolescence is associated with reduced grey matter volumes
Self archived versionfinal draft
MetadataShow full item record
CitationHeikkinen N. Niskanen E. Könönen M. Tolmunen T. Kekkonen V. Kivimäki P. Tanila H. Laukkanen E. Vanninen R. (2017). Alcohol consumption during adolescence is associated with reduced grey matter volumes. ADDICTION, 112 (4) , 604-613. 10.1111/add.13697.
Background and aims
Cognitive impairment has been associated with excessive alcohol use, but its neural basis is poorly understood. Chronic excessive alcohol use in adolescence may lead to neuronal loss and volumetric changes in the brain. Our objective was to compare the grey matter volumes of heavy‐ and light‐drinking adolescents.
This was a longitudinal study: heavy‐drinking adolescents without an alcohol use disorder and their light‐drinking controls were followed‐up for 10 years using questionnaires at three time‐points. Magnetic resonance imaging was conducted at the last time‐point.
The area near Kuopio University Hospital, Finland.
The 62 participants were aged 22–28 years and included 35 alcohol users and 27 controls who had been followed‐up for approximately 10 years.
Alcohol use was measured by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)‐C at three time‐points during 10 years. Participants were selected based on their AUDIT‐C score. Magnetic resonance imaging was conducted at the last time‐point. Grey matter volume was determined and compared between heavy‐ and light‐drinking groups using voxel‐based morphometry on three‐dimensional T1‐weighted magnetic resonance images using predefined regions of interest and a threshold of P < 0.05, with small volume correction applied on cluster level.
Grey matter volumes were significantly smaller among heavy‐drinking participants in the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, right orbitofrontal and frontopolar cortex, right superior temporal gyrus and right insular cortex compared to the control group (P < 0.05, family‐wise error‐corrected cluster level).
Excessive alcohol use during adolescence appears to be associated with an abnormal development of the brain grey matter. Moreover, the structural changes detected in the insula of alcohol users may reflect a reduced sensitivity to alcohol's negative subjective effects.