Psychopharmacology

, Volume 200, Issue 4, pp 475–486

Brain mu-opioid receptor binding: relationship to relapse to cocaine use after monitored abstinence

Authors

    • Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug AbuseNational Institutes of Health
    • NIDA IRP
  • Yu Kyeong Kim
    • Department of Radiology and Radiological SciencesJohns Hopkins University School of Medicine
    • Department of Nuclear MedicineSeoul National University
  • Badreddine Bencherif
    • Department of Radiology and Radiological SciencesJohns Hopkins University School of Medicine
    • Department of RadiologyUniversity of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Susan J. Boyd
    • Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug AbuseNational Institutes of Health
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Maryland School of Medicine
  • Richard Nelson
    • Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug AbuseNational Institutes of Health
  • Marc L. Copersino
    • Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug AbuseNational Institutes of Health
    • McLean HospitalHarvard University
  • Robert F. Dannals
    • Department of Radiology and Radiological SciencesJohns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • J. James Frost
    • Department of Radiology and Radiological SciencesJohns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-008-1225-5

Cite this article as:
Gorelick, D.A., Kim, Y.K., Bencherif, B. et al. Psychopharmacology (2008) 200: 475. doi:10.1007/s00213-008-1225-5

Abstract

Rationale

Cocaine users have increased regional brain mu-opioid receptor (mOR) binding which correlates with cocaine craving. The relationship of mOR binding to relapse is unknown.

Objective

To evaluate regional brain mOR binding as a predictor of relapse to cocaine use is the objective of the study.

Materials and methods

Fifteen nontreatment-seeking, adult cocaine users were housed on a closed research ward for 12 weeks of monitored abstinence and then followed for up to 1 year after discharge. Regional brain mOR binding was measured after 1 and 12 weeks using positron emission tomography (PET) with [11C]carfentanil (a selective mOR agonist). Time to first cocaine use (lapse) and to first two consecutive days of cocaine use (relapse) after discharge was based on self-report and urine toxicology.

Results

A shorter interval before relapse was associated with increased mOR binding in frontal and temporal cortical regions at 1 and 12 weeks of abstinence (Ps < 0.001) and with a lesser decrease in binding between 1 and 12 weeks (Ps < 0.0008). There were significant positive correlations between mOR binding at 12 weeks and percent days of cocaine use during first month after relapse (Ps < 0.002). In multiple linear regression analysis, mOR binding contributed significantly to the prediction of time to relapse (R2 = 0.79, P < 0.001), even after accounting for clinical variables.

Conclusions

Increased brain mOR binding in frontal and temporal cortical regions is a significant independent predictor of time to relapse to cocaine use, suggesting an important role for the brain endogenous opioid system in cocaine addiction.

Keywords

CocaineMu-opioid receptorPositron emission tomographyRelapseCarfentanilFrontal cortexTemporal cortex

Copyright information

© US Government 2008