The Impact of Acamprosate on Cue Reactivity in Alcohol Dependent Individuals: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study

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Alcohol cue–induced brain activation has been studied extensively in alcoholics. However, little is known about the impact of standard treatment protocols on this phenomenon. The current study aimed at investigating the impact of the anticraving substance acamprosate on alcohol cue–related brain activity. Patients underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation before the beginning of medication with acamprosate or placebo (T0) and 2 weeks later (T1). All patients also received psychiatric inpatient treatment including psychotherapeutic interventions. Twenty-nine patients were included in the T0 analysis and 22 patients in the T1 analysis. At T0, a cluster in the left and right posterior cingulate cortex, covering parts of the retrosplenial cortex, was significantly associated with alcohol versus neutral cue exposure. At T1, no significant cluster was found for the alcohol-versus-neutral contrast. The analysis of the impact of acamprosate on cue-related activity in the posterior cingulate cortex cluster revealed no significant difference to placebo. These results provide further evidence for the involvement of the posterior cingulate cortex in alcohol cue exposure. However, in comparison with psychiatric inpatient treatment alone, there was no additional effect of acamprosate on cue-related brain activity.

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