Stony Brook Researchers Develop Neuroimaging Technique Capturing Cocaine’s Devastating Effect on Brain Blood Flow
Researchers from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Stony Brook University have developed a high-resolution, 3D optical Doppler imaging tomography technique that captures the effects of cocaine restricting the blood supply in vessels – including small capillaries – of the brain. The study, reported in Molecular Psychiatry, and with images on the journal’s October 2012 cover, illustrates the first use of the novel neuroimaging technique and provides evidence of cocaine-induced cerebral microischemia, which can cause stroke.
In “Cocaine-induced cortical microischemia in the rodent brain: clinical implications,” the researchers discovered that cocaine administered in doses equivalent to those normally taken by abusers caused constriction in blood vessels that inhibited CBF for varying lengths of time. Brain arteries, veins, and even capillaries, the smallest vessels, were affected by the doses. CBF was markedly decreased within just two-to-three minutes after drug administration. In some vessels, a decrease in CBF reached 70 percent. Recovery time for the vessels varied. Cocaine interrupted CBF in some arteriolar branches for more than 45 minutes. This effect became more pronounced after repeated cocaine administration.
“Our study revealed evidence of cocaine-induced cerebral microischemic changes in multiple experimental models, and we were able to clearly image the process and vasoactive effects at a microvascular level,” said study Principal Investigator Yingtian Pan, PhD, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Stony Brook University. “These clinical changes jeopardize oxygen delivery to cerebral tissue making it vulnerable to ischemia and neuronal death.”