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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006 Dec;31(12):2716-27. Epub 2006 Sep 13.

Increased occupancy of dopamine receptors in human striatum during cue-elicited cocaine craving.

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  • 1The Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287-0807, USA.

Erratum in

  • Neuropsychopharmacology. 2007 Jan;32(1):256. Lee, Jae Sung [added].


In all, 19 research subjects, with current histories of frequent cocaine use, were exposed to cocaine-related cues to elicit drug craving. We measured the change of occupancy of dopamine at D2-like receptors with positron emission tomography (PET) and inferred a change of intrasynaptic dopamine (endogenous dopamine release), based on the displacement of radiotracer [(11)C]raclopride. Receptor occupancy by dopamine increased significantly in putamen of participants who reported cue-elicited craving compared to those who did not. Further, the intensity of craving was positively correlated with the increase in dopamine receptor occupancy in the putamen. These results provide direct evidence that occupancy of dopamine receptors in human dorsal striatum increased in proportion to subjective craving, presumably because of increased release of intrasynaptic dopamine.

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