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Magn Reson Imaging. 2012 Feb;30(2):261-70. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2011.09.006. Epub 2011 Nov 12.

Responses of dopaminergic, serotonergic and noradrenergic networks to acute levo-tetrahydropalmatine administration in naïve rats detected at 9.4 T.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.



The aim of this study was to understand the neuropharmacological characteristics of levo-tetrahydropalmatine (l-THP), a recently found potential treatment for drug addiction, and discover its neural correlates and sites of action.


High-field pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging (phMRI) was used to detect activation induced by acute l-THP administration in the naïve rat brain at dose levels of 5, 10, 20 and 40 mg/kg.


Interestingly, the pharmacological profile of l-THP selectively binds to the receptors of the dopaminergic, serotonergic and noradrenergic systems. Using the phMRI method, it was demonstrated that l-THP selectively activated the key brain regions of the dopaminergic, serotonergic and noradrenergic systems in a dose-dependent manner.


Numerous studies suggest a critical role of monoamines in the behavioral, pharmacological and addictive properties of psychostimulants. It is suggested that l-THP holds great potential to be a therapeutic medication for drug addiction.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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