Mitochondrial Link To Cocaine Addiction Explored

“cocaine photo” by Imagens Evangélicas is licensed under CC BY Interview with:
Mary Kay Lobo, PhD

Associate Professor
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology
Baltimore, MD 21201 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Altered energy balance has been studied in drug abuse but the fundamental source of energy, mitochondria, has not been well examined.  In this study we found that a molecular regulator of mitochondrial fission (division) is increased in the nucleus accumbens, a major brain reward region, of rodents exposed to repeated cocaine and postmortem samples of cocaine dependent individuals.  We further found that mitochondrial fission is increased in a nucleus accumbens neuron subtype in rodents that self-administer cocaine. Pharmacological blockade of mitochondrial fission can prevent physiological responses to cocaine in this neuron subtype while reducing cocaine-mediated behaviors.  Finally, genetic reduction of mitochondrial fission in this neuron subtype in the nucleus accumbens can reduce drug (cocaine) seeking in rodents previously exposed to cocaine. In contrast, increasing mitochondrial fission, in this neuron subtype, enhances cocaine seeking behavior.

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Cocaine Overdoses Rising Especially Among African Americans Interview with:
“Cocaine” by Nightlife Of Revelry is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Dave Thomas PhD

Health Scientist Administrator
National Institute on Drug Abuse What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: At the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we support research on all forms of drug use, and are aware that cocaine misuse is on the rise.  We are aware that various forms of drug use can have greater prevalence by race, sex, age and other population characteristics.

The main finding of this paper is that cocaine overdose rates are on the rise and that that the group hit hardest is the non-Hispanic black population.

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Recreational Cocaine Use Activates Addiction Related Brain Mechanisms Sooner Than Previously Realized Interview with:

Marco Leyton, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Psychiatry McGill University

Dr. Marco Leyton

Marco Leyton, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry
McGill University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Drug-related cues are potent triggers for eliciting conscious and unconscious desire for the drug. In people with severe substance use disorders, these cues also activate dopamine release in the dorsal striatum, a brain region thought to be involved in hard-to-break habits and compulsions.

In the present study we found evidence that drug cues also activate this same dopamine response in non-dependent ‘recreational’ cocaine users.

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Cancer Drug May Mitigate Compulsive Cocaine Memories Interview with:
Dr Stefania Fasano
Cardiff University What is the background for this study?

Response: Exposure to drugs of abuse such as cocaine produces intense and long-lasting memories that are critical in the transition from recreational drug-taking to uncontrolled drug use. In the brain, addictive drugs usurp cellular circuits and signalling molecules involved in normal memory processes; hence, these drug-related memories resist extinction and contribute to high rates of relapse. Despite almost five decades of experimental research, there are currently no approved medications for cocaine dependence.

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Cocaine Chief Cause of Cardiovascular Death In Young People Interview with:
Luis F. Callado M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Pharmacology
University of the Basque Country

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Callado: Cocaine is the most commonly used illicit stimulant drug in Europe. The use of cocaine has become a major issue for drug policy, with also important health implications, including potentially lethal cardiovascular complications. In this way, several case series have suggested a relationship between cocaine use and cardiovascular diseases in young adults. Furthermore, cocaine use has been also associated with sudden and unexpected death.

Our results demonstrate that the recent use of cocaine is the main risk factor for sudden cardiovascular death in persons between 15 and 49 years old. Thus, persons that consumed cocaine recently presented a 4 times higher risk for sudden cardiovascular death than those who did not use cocaine. The morphological substrate of sudden cardiovascular death associated to cocaine use is a structural pathology not diagnosed in life. Usually, sudden death is the first manifestation of the disease.

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Cocaine: Brain Reward Circuitry Altered, even in Former Users Interview with:
Krishna Patel, M.S.
Clinical Data Analyst
Hartford Hospital|Institute of Living
Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center
Hartford, CT-06106 What are the main findings of the study?

Answer:  We looked at brain response to a monetary incentive delay (MID) task in current and former cocaine users compared to healthy controls using functional MRI. The task measures aspects of sensitivity to rewards and punishments. Current cocaine users showed abnormal under-activation in reward circuitry compared to healthy controls. In some of those regions former cocaine users (who had an average of 4years of abstinence from cocaine) also showed abnormalities. These former users also showed over-activation in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain, (an important region containing dopamine cell bodies) compared to both healthy controls and current cocaine users. Current and former cocaine users also scored higher on specific impulsivity measures, compared to healthy controls.
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