This study investigated the platelet 5-HT levels and their changes according to different physiological and pathological factors in 30 young alcoholic patients (16 alcohol abusers and 14 alcohol-dependent subjects) and 26 healthy controls. Platelet 5-HT levels were determined by a fluorescent-ortho-phthalaldehyde assay. The mean platelet 5-HT levels obtained in patients during withdrawal and after 2 weeks of abstinence were significantly lower than in controls. Presence of positive history of impulse control disorders (ICD) influenced the mean platelet 5-HT levels in patients. These preliminary results suggest that the platelet 5-HT level decrease observed in alcohol-dependent patients mostly free from ICD and in alcohol abusers mostly affected by ICD might result from comparable neurobiological mechanisms. However, the age of onset of alcohol dependence might depend on psychological functioning features.
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