Academic Editor: Pradeep Paudel
Background: The association between blunted dopaminergic neurotransmission and alcohol use disorder (AUD) is well-known. In particular, the impairment of postsynaptic dopamine 2 and 3 receptors (DRD2/3) in the ventral and dorsal striatum during the development and maintenance of alcohol addiction has been investigated in several positron emission tomography (PET) studies. However, it is unclear whether these changes are the result of adaptation or genetic predisposition. Methods: Here we investigated the association between DRD2/ankyrin repeat and kinase domain-containing 1 (ANKK1) TaqIA allele (rs1800497) status and striatal DRD2/3 availability measured by 18F-fallypride PET in 12 AUD patients and 17 sex-matched healthy controls. Age and smoking status were included as covariates. Results: Contrary to our expectations, TaqIA allele status was not associated with striatal DRD2/3 availability in either group and there was no significant difference between groups, possibly due to the relatively small sample size (N = 29). Conclusions: Nonetheless, this is the first in vivo study investigating the relationship between dopamine receptor availability and genetic factors in AUD. The pitfalls of assessing such relationships in a relatively small sample are discussed. Clinical Trial Registration: The published analysis is an additional, post hoc analysis to the preregistered trial with clinical trial number NCT01679145 available on https://clinical-trials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01679145.