Acute effects of alcohol on brain perfusion monitored with arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging in young adults

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2014 Mar;34(3):472-9. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2013.223. Epub 2014 Jan 8.


While a number of studies have established that moderate doses of alcohol increase brain perfusion, the time course of such an increase as a function of breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) has not yet been investigated, and studies differ about regional effects. Using arterial spin labeling (ASL) magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated (1) the time course of the perfusion increase during a 15-minute linear increase of BrAC up to 0.6 g/kg followed by a steady exposure of 100 minutes, (2) the regional distribution, (3) a potential gender effect, and (4) the temporal stability of perfusion effects. In 48 young adults who participated in the Dresden longitudinal study on alcohol effects in young adults, we observed (1) a 7% increase of global perfusion as compared with placebo and that perfusion and BrAC are tightly coupled in time, (2) that the increase reaches significance in most regions of the brain, (3) that the effect is stronger in women than in men, and (4) that an acute tolerance effect is not observable on the time scale of 2 hours. Larger studies are needed to investigate the origin and the consequences of the effect, as well as the correlates of inter-subject variations.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking / blood
  • Alcohol Drinking / metabolism
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology*
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Breath Tests
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / drug effects*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Spin Labels
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Spin Labels
  • Ethanol