Life Science News: PET Imaging Confirms Link Between Receptor Levels And Cocaine Abuse
The research, in animals, shows a significant correlation between the number of receptors in part of the brain for the neurotransmitter dopamine – measured before cocaine use begins – and the rate at which the animal will later self-administer the drug. The research was conducted in rhesus monkeys, which are considered an excellent model of human drug users.
Generally the lower the initial number of dopamine receptors, the higher the rate of cocaine use, the researchers found. The research was led by Michael A. Nader, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
It was already known that cocaine abusers had lower levels of a particular dopamine receptor known as D2, in both human and animal subjects, compared to non-users. But it was not known whether that was a pre-existing trait that predisposed individuals to cocaine abuse or was a result of cocaine use.