Volume 11, Issue 3
Article

Long‐Term frontal brain metabolic changes in cocaine abusers

Nora D. Volkow

Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973

Department of Psychiatry, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York 11794‐8101

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Robert Hitzemann

Department of Psychiatry, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York 11794‐8101

VA Hospital, Northport, New York 11768

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Gene‐Jack Wang

Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973

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Joanna S. Fowler

Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973

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Alfred P. Wolf

Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973

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Stephen L. Dewey

Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973

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First published: July 1992
Cited by: 248

Abstract

Neurological complications from cocaine use are well recognized. We propose that chronic cocaine use can also cause clinically silent brain dysfunction.

We investigated brain glucose metabolism with positron emission tomography (PET) and 2‐deoxy‐2[18F] fluoro‐D‐glucose (FDG) in 21 neurologically intact chronic cocaine abusers (C) and 18 normal controls (N). The cocaine abusers were tested 1–6 weeks after the last use of cocaine and seven were retested after a 3 month drug‐free period.

Global cerebral glucose metabolism was not significantly different between controls and cocaine abusers (N = 38.4±3, C = 36.5±5 μmol/100 g of tissue, min). However, cocaine abusers had significantly (P< 0.05) lower metabolic activity in 16 of the 21 left frontal regions and 8 of the 21 right frontal regions. These decreases persisted after 3–4 months of detoxification and were correlated with the dose (P ≤ 0.01) and the years of cocaine use (P ≤ 0.05).

This study shows reduced rates of frontal metabolism in neurologically intact cocaine abusers that persist even after 3–4 months of detoxification. © Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

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