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February 1979

Alcohol and Central Serotonin Metabolism in Man

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md (Drs Ballenger and Major), and the Clinical Psychobiology Branch (Dr Goodwin) and the Biological Psychiatry Branch (Dr Brown), National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md. Drs Ballenger and Major are now with the Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(2):224-227. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780020114013

• Animal studies and some of the phenomena associated with alcoholism in humans suggest that some central effects of alcohol may involve serotonergic systems. The CSF metabolites of serotonin and dopamine, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5HIAA), and homovanillic acid (HVA) were studied in hospitalized alcoholics. There were no significant differences in HVA levels between groups. The level of 5HIAA of alcoholics in the abstinence phase, 28 to 63 days after their last drink, was significantly lower (21.8 ± 1.9 ng/ml) than both a nonalcoholic comparison group (31.7 ± 2.0 ng/ml) and alcoholics in the immediate postintoxication phase, within one to two days after their last drink (32.3 ± 2.9 ng/mL).