Identifying key neural substrates in addiction disorders for targeted drug development remains a major challenge for clinical neuroscience. One emerging target is the opioid system, where substance-dependent populations demonstrate prefrontal opioid dysregulation that predicts impulsivity and relapse. This may suggest that disturbances to the prefrontal opioid system could confer a risk for relapse in addiction due to weakened ‘top-down’ control over impulsive behaviour. Naltrexone is currently licensed for alcohol dependence and is also used clinically for impulse control disorders. Using a go/no-go (GNG) task, we examined the effects of acute naltrexone on the neural correlates of successful motor impulse control in abstinent alcoholics (AUD), abstinent polysubstance-dependent (poly-SUD) individuals and controls during a randomised double blind placebo controlled fMRI study. In the absence of any differences on GNG task performance, the AUD group showed a significantly greater BOLD response compared to the control group in lateral and medial prefrontal regions during both placebo and naltrexone treatments; effects that were positively correlated with alcohol abstinence. There was also a dissociation in the positive modulating effects of naltrexone in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and anterior insula cortex (AIC) of the AUD and poly-SUD groups respectively. Self-reported trait impulsivity in the poly-SUD group also predicted the effect of naltrexone in the AIC. These results suggest that acute naltrexone differentially amplifies neural responses within two distinct regions of a salience network during successful motor impulse control in abstinent AUD and poly-SUD groups, which are predicted by trait impulsivity in the poly-SUD group.
- functional MRI