Acute effects of ethanol on regional brain glucose metabolism and transport

Nora D. Volkow, Robert Hitzemann, Alfred P. Wolf, Jean Logan, Joanna S. Fowler, David Christman, Stephen L. Dewey, David Schlyer, Gale Burr, Stephen Vitkun, Jack Hirschowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


To evaluate the effects of ethanol in the human brain, we tested six normal subjects and six alcoholics using positron emission tomography and 2-deoxy-2-[18F]-fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) under baseline conditions and 24 hours later after ethanol administration (1 g/kg). Ethanol inhibited cortical and cerebellar glucose metabolism with relative sparing of the basal ganglia and corpus callosum. This inhibition was more pronounced in the alcoholics than in the controls. Measurement of the constants for glucose transport and utilization showed that decreased glucose metabolism was due to a reduction in glucose phosphorylation and not to a change of glucose transport into the tissue. The pattern of regional metabolic inhibition by alcohol paralleled the distribution of benzodiazepine receptors in the human brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethanol
  • F-fluorodeoxyglucose
  • benzodiazepine receptors
  • positron emission tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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