BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Whereas striatal dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) availability has shown to be altered in individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and in healthy individuals with a family history of AUD, the role of D2R in the development of AUD is unknown. In this positron emission tomography (PET) study, we measured whether D2R availability is associated with subsequent alcohol use and alcohol-related factors, at a follow-up 8 to 16 years post-PET scan, in social drinkers.
DESIGN: Longitudinal study investigating the association between PET data and later self-report measures in healthy individuals.
SETTING: Academic research imaging centre in Stockholm, Sweden.
PARTICIPANTS: There were 71 individuals (68 of whom had evaluable PET data, 5 females, 42.0 years mean age) from a series of previous PET studies.
MEASUREMENTS: One PET examination with the D2R antagonist radioligand [11 C]raclopride at baseline and self-report measures assessing alcohol use, drug use, impulsivity, reward sensitivity and family history of alcohol or substance use disorder at follow-up.
FINDINGS: We found no evidence for an association between D2R availability and later alcohol use (B = -0.019, B 95% CI = -0.043 to -0.006, P = 0.147) nor for the majority of the alcohol-related factors (B 95% CI = -0.034 to 0.004, P = 0.273-0.288). A negative association with a small effect size was found between D2R availability and later impulsivity (B = -0.017, B 95% CI = -0.034 to -0.001, P = 0.046).
CONCLUSIONS: Low striatal dopamine D2 receptor availability may not be a strong predictor in the development of alcohol use disorder.