Orexin in Patients with Alcohol Dependence Treated for Relapse Prevention: A Pilot Study†

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The aim of the study was to assess the blood concentration of orexin and its association with other clinical factors in patients with alcohol dependence.


Thirty-two males hospitalized on an addiction treatment ward due to alcohol dependence and 23 healthy men as a control group were enrolled in the study. The measurement of orexin in the blood was made at the beginning of the treatment (after withdrawal symptoms had stopped) and again after 4 weeks of observation.


At the beginning of the observation, the alcohol-dependent patients had significantly greater orexin blood concentration than the control group. After 4 weeks of treatment for relapse prevention, the blood orexin level decreased significantly to a value similar to that in the control group. At the beginning of the study, more severely alcohol-dependent patients (Short Alcohol Dependence Data [SADD] score range: 20–45) had significantly greater orexin blood concentration than individuals with moderate addiction severity (SADD score range: 10–19). However, after 4 weeks of abstinence, the peptide blood concentration was similar in both groups of alcoholic patients.


Orexin or its receptor is a potential target for relapse prevention treatment, but further study with long-term observation is needed to verify the usefulness of blood orexin determination as a marker of alcohol relapse risk.

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