Neurochemical Correlates of Sympathetic Activation during Severe Alcohol Withdrawal

Rollin J. Hawley, Charles B. Nemeroff, Garth Bissette, Alessandro Guidotti, Robert Rawlings, Markku Linnoila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was obtained from 17 patients during acute alcohol withdrawal. Eight of these 17 patients had a second lumbar puncture a mean of 11.9 ± 8.1 (SD) days later, when the clinical signs of alcohol withdrawal had subsided. CSF 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol concentrations declined significantly (p < 0.05) during the course of alcohol withdrawal from 52.0 ± 22.1 (SD) to 39.6 ± 12.6 pM/ml. In early withdrawal, there was a significant positive correlation between CSF norepinephrine (NE) and corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) concentrations (r = 0.95, p < 0.001). Both NE and CRH concentrations correlated positively with diastolic blood pressure (r = 0.88, p < 0.001 and r = 0.62, p < 0.05, respectively). In all samples, CSF 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid concentrations correlated positively with CSF-homovanillic acid concentrations (r = 0.83, p < 0.001). These findings indicate significant perturbations of the noradrenergic neuronal system and a change in CRH-NE interactions during acute alcohol withdrawal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1312-1316
Number of pages5
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • 3-Methoxy-4- hydroxyphenylglycol
  • Alcohol
  • Homovanillic Acid
  • Norepinephrine
  • Stress
  • Withdrawal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology


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