Silvia De Santis et al show evidence in the progression of damage within the white matter of the brain during the initial period of alcohol cessation. The researchers used Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), a magnetic resonance imaging-based technique capable of detecting the anisotropy of the brain’s white matter tracts. The study revealed that the damage in the brain could continue up to two to six weeks of abstinence from alcohol. The study involved 91 volunteers of average 46 years of age who had alcohol use disorder (AUD) and were interned for rehabilitation. A control group involving 36 men without alcohol problems with an average age of 41 years was also involved in the study. The findings showed comparable alterations in the white matter with intense preferential involvement of corpus callosum and fimbria which are connected with memory and decision making. The results were compared in parallel with rat models showing preference to alcohol consumption. 27 male rats showing AUD were compared against 9 male control rats. The research reveals that the damage progression can still continue in the brain during initial abstinence from severe alcohol consumption.
Source: JAMA Psychiatry April 3, 2019 doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.0318 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2729425