MRI assessment of cerebral oxygen metabolism in cocaine-addicted individuals: Hypoactivity and dose dependence

Peiying Liu, Hanzhang Lu, Francesca M. Filbey, Carol A. Tamminga, Yan Cao, Bryon Adinoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Long-term cocaine use is known to negatively impact neural and cerebrovascular systems. However, the use of imaging markers to separately assess these parameters remains challenging. The primary reason is that most functional imaging markers, such as cerebral blood flow, functional connectivity, and task-evoked functional MRI, are known to reflect a complex interplay between neural and vascular components, thus the interpretation of the results is not straightforward. The goal of the present study is to examine neural-activity-specific changes in cocaine addiction, using cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) as a surrogate marker of aggregated neural activity. We applied a recently developed CMRO2 technique in 13 cocaine-addicted subjects and 13 age- and gender-matched control subjects, and examined the impact of long-term cocaine use on CMRO2. Our results showed that CMRO2 in cocaine-addicted subjects (152±16μmol/100g/min) is significantly lower (p=0.031) than that in controls (169±20μmol/100g/min). Furthermore, the severity of this decreased metabolism is associated with lifetime cocaine use (p=0.05). Additionally, the CMRO2 reduction was accompanied by a trend of decrease in cerebral blood flow (p=0.058), but venous oxygenation was unaffected (p=0.96), which suggested that the CMRO2 change may be attributed to a vascular deficiency in chronic cocaine users. To our knowledge, this is the first study to measure CMRO2 in cocaine-addicted individuals. Our findings suggest that CMRO2 may be a promising approach for assessing the long-term effects of cocaine use on the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-732
Number of pages7
JournalNMR in biomedicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Brain functions
  • Cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen
  • Cocaine addiction
  • MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Spectroscopy


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