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Evidence for GABA-A receptor dysregulation in gambling disorder: Correlation with impulsivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Inge Mick
  • Anna C. Ramos
  • Jim Myers
  • Paul R. Stokes
  • Samantha Chandrasekera
  • David Erritzoe
  • Maria A. Mendez
  • Roger N. Gunn
  • Eugenii A. Rabiner
  • Graham E. Searle
  • José C F Galduróz
  • Adam D. Waldman
  • Henrietta Bowden-Jones
  • Luke Clark
  • David J. Nutt
  • Anne R. Lingford-Hughes

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    Rights statement: © 2016 The Authors. Addiction Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Original languageEnglish
JournalAddiction Biology
Early online date13 Oct 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Oct 2016


As a behavioural addiction, gambling disorder (GD) provides an opportunity to characterize addictive processes without the potentially confounding effects of chronic excessive drug and alcohol exposure. Impulsivity is an established precursor to such addictive behaviours, and GD is associated with greater impulsivity. There is also evidence of GABAergic dysregulation in substance addiction and in impulsivity. This study therefore investigated GABAA receptor availability in 15 individuals with GD and 19 healthy volunteers (HV) using [11C]Ro15-4513, a relatively selective α5 benzodiazepine receptor PET tracer and its relationship with impulsivity. We found significantly higher [11C]Ro15-4513 total distribution volume (VT) in the right hippocampus in the GD group compared with HV. We found higher levels of the 'Negative Urgency' construct of impulsivity in GD, and these were positively associated with higher [11C]Ro15-4513 VT in the amygdala in the GD group; no such significant correlations were evident in the HV group. These results contrast with reduced binding of GABAergic PET ligands described previously in alcohol and opiate addiction and add to growing evidence for distinctions in the neuropharmacology between substance and behavioural addictions. These results provide the first characterization of GABAA receptors in GD with [11C]Ro15-4513 PET and show greater α5 receptor availability and positive correlations with trait impulsivity. This GABAergic dysregulation is potential target for treatment.

    Research areas

  • GABA system, Gambling disorder, [C]Ro15-4513 PET

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