Sunday, November 20, 2016

11/21 - Cocaine

          This week's papers discuss how some effects of cocaine differ between male rats and female rats. Holly et al. showed that in all rats, there was a significant increase in dopamine after cocaine administration, with greater levels in stressed rats than in non-stressed rats. However, there was a longer lasting DA increase in female rats. I would have liked to see functional effects of this increased DA with a DA antagonist injection, followed by a behavioral assay such as a locomotor test, which you would hypothesize that the stressed female rats would show the greatest decrease in locomotion compared to controls after a DA antagonist injection. They could perform further experiments to understand why there is a difference between male and female DA levels, as well as interactions between cocaine and estradiol/progesterone. Because cocaine affects females moreso than males, I wonder the current therapies for cocaine addiction in humans are geared more towards females than males. If there are not, then more research should be done on how to treat this in females, because this specificity could be more efficient.

          Vassoler et al. shows that paternal cocaine exposure decreases cocaine exposure in male offspring.  I thought these results were fascinating because I would have thought that offspring of a parent that used cocaine would be at higher risk of using cocaine, but this paper shows the opposite is true (in males, at least). But what about the studies done in humans that show that children of addicted parents have a higher susceptibility to become addicted as well? There must be some risk factors involved that this paper did not look into, such as environmental and other genetic influences. Also, how does the amount of cocaine self-administered by these male rats (about 0.7 mg per kg of body weight per infusion) compare to the high amount humans that are addicted to cocaine take in? Knowing this can be useful for translational studies. That being said, the results of this experiment alone do not appear to be too useful in the clinical setting. It doesn't really explain how someone currently addicted to cocaine can seek effective treatment. And, I highly doubt a man would self-administer himself cocaine so that his future son will inherit a protective effect of cocaine.

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