October 1978

Platelet Monoamine Oxidase and Serum Dopamine-β-Hydroxylase Activity in Chronic Alcoholics

Author Affiliations

From the Psychiatry Service, Veterans Administration Hospital, and the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Sullivan, Cavenar and Mr Stanfield) and Pharmacology (Dr Schanberg), Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978;35(10):1209-1212. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1978.01770340059005

• Previous independent reports suggest that low platelet monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity and high serum dopamineβ-hydroxylase (DBH) activity may be associated with alcoholism or vulnerability toward alcoholism. However, there are also contradictory reports in the literature with regard to each of these two enzymes. We measured both platelet MAO and serum DBH activity in alcoholics followed up at periodic intervals for 12 months after hospitalization for acute alcoholism. Platelet MAO activity in the alcoholics was significantly lower compared to that of nonpsychiatric controls throughout the 12-month period, whereas serum DBH activity in the alcoholics was essentially the same as control values.

Thus, low platelet MAO activity, previously reported in a spectrum of clinical psychiatric disorders, appears to be a relatively stable phenomenon in chronic alcoholics irrespective of acute intoxication or pathophysiological factors associated with acute decompensation in individuals vulnerable to alcoholism.