The effect of self-administered cocaine on extracellular dopamine (DA) levels has not been measured in humans.
Ten nondependent cocaine users underwent positron emission tomography [11C]raclopride scans following intranasal self-administration of cocaine hydrochloride (1.0 mg/kg) and placebo powder.
Compared with placebo, intranasal cocaine self-administration decreased [11C]raclopride binding values in the ventral limbic striatum and putamen. Individual differences in the magnitude of the [11C]raclopride response in the ventral striatum were predicted by lifetime histories of stimulant drug use.
The results suggest that 1) intranasal cocaine self-administration increases synaptic DA levels in human striatum and 2) prior use of stimulant drugs on the street is associated with progressively greater cocaine-induced DA responses. These dopaminergic effects might influence susceptibility to drug–seeking behavior and the progression to substance abuse.
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Published online: March 02, 2009
Accepted: January 18, 2009
Received in revised form: January 15, 2009
Received: December 2, 2008
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