Relationship between the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis and alcohol craving in alcohol-dependent patients: A longitudinal study

Lorenzo Leggio, Anna Ferrulli, Silvia Cardone, Noemi Malandrino, Antonio Mirijello, Cristina D'Angelo, Luisa Vonghia, Antonio Miceli, Esmeralda Capristo, George A. Kenna, Giovanni Gasbarrini, Robert M. Swift, Giovanni Addolorato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A relationship between some hypothalamic-pituitary-related hormones and craving for alcohol has been suggested, leading to hypothesize a role of some hormones in the neurobiology of alcohol dependence. Investigating this association in alcohol-dependent (AD) patients was the aim of this preliminary and exploratory study. Methods: Cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone, prolactin, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free T3, free T4, growth hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone as well as administering the Obsessive-Compulsive Drinking Scale (OCDS) and Penn Alcohol Craving Scale (PACS) were assessed at baseline and after 12 weeks in 25 current AD patients. Patients were treated with baclofen (10 mg t.i.d.) for these 12 weeks. Sixteen patients remained totally abstinent for 12 weeks. Results: At baseline, a significant inverse correlation was found between TSH and PACS (r = -0.46; p = 0.022) and OCDS scores (r = -0.53; p = 0.007). A significant direct correlation was found between free T3 and OCDS score (r = 0.44; p = 0.026). In the 16 abstinent patients, craving scores were significantly decreased at 12 weeks (p <0.01). At 12 weeks, no significant correlation was found between TSH and craving, but free T3 remained directly correlated with OCDS score (r = 0.60; p = 0.013). Conclusions: A relationship between alcohol craving and free T3 and TSH was demonstrated in AD patients, suggesting the potential involvement of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis in the neurobiology of alcohol craving. ©

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2047-2053
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • Alcohol dependence
  • Craving
  • Hypothalamic- pituitary-thyroid axis
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary axis
  • Thyroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Toxicology


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