Dopaminergic system dysfunction in recreational dexamphetamine users

Anouk Schrantee, Lena Václavů, Dennis F R Heijtel, Matthan W A Caan, Willy Gsell, Paul J Lucassen, Aart J Nederveen, Jan Booij, Liesbeth Reneman
Neuropsychopharmacology: Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 2015 March 13, 40 (5): 1172-80
Dexamphetamine (dAMPH) is a stimulant drug that is widely used recreationally as well as for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although animal studies have shown neurotoxic effects of dAMPH on the dopaminergic system, little is known about such effects on the human brain. Here, we studied the dopaminergic system at multiple physiological levels in recreational dAMPH users and age, gender, and IQ-matched dAMPH-naïve healthy controls. We assessed baseline D2/3 receptor availability, in addition to changes in dopamine (DA) release using single-photon emission computed tomography and DA functionality using pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging, following a dAMPH challenge. Also, the subjective responses to the challenge were determined. dAMPH users displayed significantly lower striatal DA D2/3 receptor binding compared with healthy controls. In dAMPH users, we further observed a blunted DA release and DA functionality to an acute dAMPH challenge, as well as a blunted subjective response. Finally, the lower D2/3 availability, the more pleasant the dAMPH administration was experienced by control subjects, but not by dAMPH users. Thus, in agreement with preclinical studies, we show that the recreational use of dAMPH in human subjects is associated with dopaminergic system dysfunction. These findings warrant further (longitudinal) investigations and call for caution when using this drug recreationally and for ADHD.

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