Background: The different clinical trajectories of cocaine-dependent men and women may be a consequence of distinct neurobiological substrates. Hypoperfusion of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has previously been reported in individuals addicted to cocaine and has been posited as a biological mediator of relapse due to impulsivity or impaired decision making. Objective: This study assessed regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) between abstinent cocaine-dependent men and women and sex-matched healthy controls. Methods: Cocaine-dependent subjects were abstinent from cocaine for 11 to 28 days and had no other major mental health or substance use disorders. rCBF was assessed with single photon emission computed tomography after administration of a placebo saline infusion. A resting scan was also obtained in a subset of cocaine-dependent and control men. Results: In the 35 cocaine-dependent and 37 healthy control subjects examined, a sex-by-group effect was observed for the left lateral (P = 0.001), right lateral (P = 0.002), and medial (P < 0.02) OFC. Cocaine-dependent men demonstrated significantly lower right and left lateral, but not medial, OFC rCBF compared with sex-matched healthy controls after placebo infusion (P ≤ 0.001). Similar bilateral OFC decreases were observed in male cocaine-dependent subjects at rest. In contrast, cocaine-dependent women showed lower rCBF in the medial, but not lateral, OFC relative to sex-matched healthy controls after placebo infusion (P < 0.01). Male cocaine-dependent subjects also showed decreased rCBF (P < 0.01) in the bilateral anterolateral temporal cortex and anterior cingulate, whereas decreased rCBF was observed in female cocaine-dependent subjects in the bilateral superior frontal gyri. Large and diffuse areas of increased rCBF were observed after placebo infusion in cocaine-dependent men, but not in women, relative to sex-matched healthy controls. Conclusions: rCBF appears to be reduced in the bilateral OFC in cocaine-dependent men and in the medial OFC in cocaine-dependent women. Sex differences in the medial and lateral OFC rCBF may be relevant to understanding relapse characteristics differentiating men and women addicted to cocaine.
- cocaine-related disorders
- orbitofrontal cortex
- single-photon emission-computed tomography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies