Neural and behavioural changes in male periadolescent mice after prolonged nicotine-MDMA treatment
Striatal dopamine (DA) is thought to have a fundamental role in the reinforcing effects of tobacco smoking and nicotine. Microdialysis studies indicate that nicotine also increases DA in extrastriatal brain areas, but much less is known about its role in addiction. High-affinity D2/3 receptor radiotracers permit the measurement of cortical DA in humans using positron emission tomography (PET). [11C]FLB-457 PET scans were conducted in 10 nicotine-dependent daily smokers after overnight abstinence and reinstatement of smoking. Voxel-wise [11C]-FLB-457-binding potential (BPND) in the frontal lobe, insula, and limbic regions was estimated in the two conditions. Paired t-tests showed BPND values were reduced following smoking (an indirect index of DA release). The overall peak t was located in the cingulate gyrus, which was part of a larger medial cluster (BPND change −12.1±9.4%) and this survived false discovery rate correction for multiple comparisons. Clusters were also identified in the left anterior cingulate cortex/medial frontal gyrus, bilateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), bilateral amygdala, and the left insula. This is the first demonstration of tobacco smoking-induced cortical DA release in humans; it may be the result of both pharmacological (nicotine) and non-pharmacological factors (tobacco cues). Abstinence increased craving but had minimal cognitive effects, thus limiting correlation analyses. However, given that the cingulate cortex, PFC, insula, and amygdala are thought to have important roles in tobacco craving, cognition, and relapse, these associations warrant investigation in a larger sample. [11C]FLB-457 PET imaging may represent a useful tool to investigate individual differences in tobacco addiction severity and treatment response.