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Increasing evidence suggest a bidirectional link between disrupted circadian rhythms and alcohol use disorders (AUD). A better understanding of these alcohol-induced changes in circadian rhythms will likely provide important therapeutic solutions. We conducted a systematic review based on the PubMed database examining biological rhythms in all stages of alcohol use: acute alcohol consumption, AUD, alcohol withdrawal, and abstinence. Different changes in circadian rhythms have been observed after a single acute alcohol intake, but also during AUD and alcohol withdrawal. Following a single acute alcohol intake, changes in biological rhythms are dose-dependent, reflected in the melatonin and cortisol secretions, and the core body temperature (CBT) rhythms. These alterations normalize the next morning and appear mostly for acute alcohol intake higher than 0.5 g/kg. These alterations are more severe during AUD and persist over time. In addition, interestingly, opposite patterns of the melatonin physiological ratio between diurnal and nocturnal secretion (N/D ratio < 1) have been observed during AUD and appear to be a marker of chronic daily use. During alcohol withdrawal, circadian rhythms desynchronization correlates with the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and withdrawal complications such as delirium tremens. During abstinence a resynchronization of circadian rhythms of cortisol and CBT appears in most patients about 1 month after alcohol withdrawal. Disruption of melatonin circadian rhythms can persist after 3-12 weeks of abstinence. The circadian genetic vulnerability associated with biological rhythms alterations in alcohol use disorders increases the risk of relapses. Circadian-based interventions could play a critical role in preventing and treating AUD.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry
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