Diffusion tensor imaging of cocaine-treated rodents.

Publication Date



Psychiatry Research


Studies in cocaine-dependent human subjects have shown differences in white matter on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) compared with non-drug-using controls. It is not known whether the differences in fractional anisotropy (FA) seen on DTI in white matter regions of cocaine-dependent humans result from a pre-existing predilection for drug use or purely from cocaine abuse. To study the effect of cocaine on brain white matter, DTI was performed on 24 rats after continuous infusion of cocaine or saline for 4 weeks, followed by brain histology. Voxel-based morphometry analysis showed an 18% FA decrease in the splenium of the corpus callosum (CC) in cocaine-treated animals relative to saline controls. On histology, significant increase in neurofilament expression (125%) and decrease in myelin basic protein (40%) were observed in the same region in cocaine-treated animals. This study supports the hypothesis that chronic cocaine use alters white matter integrity in human CC. Unlike humans, where the FA in the genu differed between cocaine users and non-users, the splenium was affected in rats. These differences between rodent and human findings could be due to several factors that include differences in the brain structure and function between species and/or the dose, timing, and duration of cocaine administration.


Animals, Brain, Cocaine, Cocaine-Related Disorders, Corpus Callosum, Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Dominance, Cerebral, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Infusion Pumps, Implantable, Male, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Myelin Basic Proteins, Nerve Fibers, Myelinated, Neurofilament Proteins, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley