Acute alcohol administration affects functional connectivity, yet the underlying mechanism is unknown. Previous work suggested that a moderate dose of alcohol reduces the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acidergic (GABAergic) interneurons, thereby leading to a state of pyramidal disinhibition and hyperexcitability. The present study aims to relate alcohol-induced changes in functional connectivity to regional genetic markers of GABAergic interneurons. Healthy young adults (N = 15, 5 males) underwent resting state functional MRI scanning prior to alcohol administration, immediately and 90 min after alcohol administration. Functional connectivity density mapping was performed to quantify alcohol-induced changes in resting brain activity between conditions. Patterns of differences between conditions were related to regional genetic markers that express the primary GABAergic cortical interneuron subtypes (parvalbumin, somatostatin, and 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 3A) obtained from the Allen Human Brain Atlas. Acute alcohol administration increased local functional connectivity density within the visual cortex, sensorimotor cortex, thalamus, striatum, and cerebellum. Patterns of alcohol-induced changes in local functional connectivity density inversely correlated with somatostatin cortical gene expression. These findings suggest that somatostatin-expressing interneurons modulate alcohol-induced changes in functional connectivity in healthy individuals.
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