Cocaine-induced hypoperfusion, a risk factor for ischemic stroke, has not been fully characterized during experimental drug-taking among individuals with cocaine use disorder. We sought to examine cocaine's dose-dependent, time-related effects on cerebral blood flow. In a double-blind, randomized human laboratory study with a counterbalanced order of drug administration, 31 male and female subjects with cocaine use disorder were divided into two groups receiving either (a) low-dose cocaine (0.325 mg/kg intravenously) or placebo (N = 15) or (b) high-dose cocaine (0.650 mg/kg intravenously) or placebo (N = 16). The different dose conditions were administered on test days separated by a rest period of > 48 h. Cerebral blood flow was assessed quantitatively using H2O15 positron emission tomography. Experimentally administered low- and high-dose cocaine conditions versus their corresponding placebo conditions were associated with global and regional hypoperfusion. The trend for high- versus low-dose cocaine to be associated with greater hypoperfusion achieved statistical significance only for the dopamine-rich sublobar and midbrain regions. Cocaine's hypoperfusion effects were maximal at 8 mins after infusion (i.e., at about the expected peak of intravenous cocaine levels) and had mostly dissipated by 32 mins after infusion. Although hypoperfusion occurred throughout the brain, the left hemispheric dopamine-rich sublobar region was the most severely affected. Cocaine-induced cerebral hypoperfusion is associated with the time course of its pharmacological effects, and dopamine-rich areas, particularly in the left hemisphere, may be most vulnerable. Increasingly larger doses of cocaine may be associated with greater risk for ischemic stroke.
- Cerebral blood flow
- Positron emission tomography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine