Background: Inflammatory pathways are known to be negatively affected in patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Cognitive bias modification (CBM), an emerging behavioral treatment that involves the 're-training' of cognitive biases using computerized tasks, has been reported to reduce alcohol craving and relapse rates. The aim of this study was to compare peripheral concentrations of the proinflammatory biomarkers IL-18, IL-6, IL-1β, TNF-α and CRP in AUD patients versus controls and to identify whether CBM treatment affected these biomarkers in AUD patients.
Methods: This 3-week double-blind randomized controlled study tested 36 male abstinent AUD patients receiving CBM or placebo-training, who were also compared to 18 male healthy controls. The approach avoidance task (AAT) was used to test the AUD patients before and after training. CBM training took place over 6 sessions, using a joystick-based approach-avoidance task. Blood samples were collected after the pre- and post-AAT test sessions for the AUD groups, and during an outpatient appointment with the controls.
Results: AUD patients, versus controls, presented with significantly higher plasma levels of TNF- α (P < 0.0001) and CRP (P = 0.0031). No changes in the CBM versus placebo groups were noted in IL-18, TNF-α and CRP concentrations following pre-post change or within group pretest- posttest analysis. IL-6 and IL-1β levels fell under the lower detection limit, thus were not included in the final analyses.
Conclusions: This study confirms that the inflammatory system is altered in AUD. This was the first study that investigated whether CBM training affected proinflammatory markers in AUD patients.
Keywords: Alcohol use disorder; C-Reactive protein; Cognitive bias modification; Inflammation; Interleukin-18; Tumor necrosis factor-a.
Published by Elsevier B.V.
Conflict of interest statement
Conflict of Interest
The authors report no potential conflicts of interest. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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