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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Nov 15;31(8):1593-600. Epub 2007 Sep 4.

The effects of cocaine: a shifting target over the course of addiction.

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  • 1Center for the Neurobiological Investigation of Drug Abuse, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1083, USA. lporrino@wfubmc.edu

Abstract

Repeated exposure to psychostimulant drugs such as cocaine has been shown in numerous studies to produce significant neuroadaptations in both structure and function throughout the brain. Nonhuman primate models provide a way to systematically evaluate these adaptations engendered by cocaine self-administration and simulate the progressive nature of cocaine addiction in humans. Functional activity, measured using the 2-[14C]deoxyglucose method, was evaluated at selected critical time points over the course of chronic cocaine self-administration in rhesus monkeys. The effects of cocaine exposure in the initial stages of self-administration resulted in changes in functional activity in a highly restricted network of interconnected brain regions when compared to activity in food-reinforced controls. This pattern of changes was confined mainly to ventromedial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum. Following chronic exposure to cocaine self-administration, however, the spatial extent and intensity of significant alterations in functional activity expanded considerably. The shift in topography of these changes was orderly, originating ventromedially in the prefrontal cortical-ventral striatal network and expanding dorsally to encompass the dorsal striatum. A strikingly similar progression occurred within the cortical areas that project to each of these striatal regions. Preliminary studies suggest that this pattern is maintained despite periods of abstinence from cocaine. The shifting patterns of cerebral metabolic function that accompany longer durations of cocaine self-administration may underlie many of the characteristics of chronic drug exposure, and may provide transitional mechanisms to more compulsive cocaine use.

PMID:
17900777
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2211431
Free PMC Article

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