, Volume 186, Issue 2, pp 159–167 | Cite as

Metabolic correlates of toluene abuse: decline and recovery of function in adolescent animals

  • Wynne K. SchifferEmail author
  • Dianne E. Lee
  • David L. Alexoff
  • Rich Ferrieri
  • Jonathan D. Brodie
  • Stephen L. Dewey
Original Investigation



Children and adolescents will readily abuse household products that contain solvents such as toluene. It is likely that reinforcing exposures to toluene alter brain glucose metabolism.


Using an animal model of drug reinforcement, we sought to identify a metabolic signature of toluene abuse in the adolescent rodent brain. Small animal PET (microPET), in combination with the glucose analog radiotracer, 18FDG, were used to evaluate the metabolic consequences of inhaled toluene.


The exposure protocol paralleled our previously established method for assessing the conditioned reinforcing effects of toluene (5,000 ppm) using the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm. Animals were scanned at baseline and 2 h after the last exposure. Follow-up 18FDG scans occurred 1 day, 3 weeks, and 2 months later. Results: After six pairings, 38% of the animals preferred the toluene paired chamber and 25% were averse. The immediate metabolic effect in toluene-exposed animals was a 20% decline in whole brain 18FDG uptake. Twenty-four hours following the last exposure, the whole brain decline was 40%, and 2 months later, the decline was 30% of pretoluene levels. A region-by-region analysis demonstrated significant additional decreases in the pons, cerebellum, striatum, midbrain, temporal cortex, and hippocampus. Two months after toluene cessation, regions of complete metabolic recovery were the thalamus and cerebellum; however, the temporal cortex did not recover.


Brain uptake of 18FDG appears to be a useful tool for examining the metabolic impact of toluene abuse, which include a profound decline followed by region-specific recovery after cessation.


Abuse Brain imaging PET Deoxyglucose Animal model Inhalant abuse 



Supported by National Institutes of Health grants DA15082, DA16025, DA15041, and T32-DA07316 and performed under Brookhaven Science Associates contract No. DE-AC02-98CH10886 with the US Department of Energy. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Madina Gerasimov, Colleen Shea, Lisa Muench, Youwen Xu and Drs. Mike Schueller, Paul Vaska and David Schlyer, and technical assistance from James Anselmini, Steve Howell and Barry Laffler in the BNL Chemistry Department. We are thankful for the helpful discussions with Drs. Joanna S. Fowler and Helene Benveniste.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wynne K. Schiffer
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Dianne E. Lee
    • 1
  • David L. Alexoff
    • 1
  • Rich Ferrieri
    • 1
  • Jonathan D. Brodie
    • 2
  • Stephen L. Dewey
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Chemistry Department, Bldg #555Brookhaven National LaboratoryUptonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryNYU School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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