Cocaine accelerates brain changes and aging, study reveals

Scientists from Germany and Canada conducted a study that revealed that people with cocaine use disorder experience changes and aging of their brain at an accelerated rate.

While the obvious reason may be that this drug is one of the most addictive narcotics for humans, according to a report published on the website of gizmodothe reason for the research is that cocaine interferes with the reward pathways of the brain.

By interfering with these pathways, the drug forces the cells to continue pumping out pleasurable signals until the drug wears off.

How did you come to this conclusion?

The researchers analyzed postmortem human brain tissues from people who were addicted to cocaine and others who were not. In this way, they found that people with drug use disorder accumulated DNA changes in the brain associated with biological aging at an accelerated rate.

The study reveals that there are non-coding DNA modifications within brain cells that affect the mechanism of turning genes on and off.

These modifications are known as epigenetic changes, patterns that were analyzed in the study in a brain region called Brodmann Area 9, located in the prefrontal cortex and is part of the brain behind the forehead.

Brodmann Area 9 is believed to regulate self-awareness and inhibitory control, both of which are affected by substance use disorders.

The researchers compared DNA methylation levels in brain tissue samples from 21 people, each of whom had cocaine use disorder and others who did not. They found that in the Brodmann Area 9 region, cocaine users had segments of DNA filled with methyl groups.

Stephanie Witt, lead author of the study and a molecular biologist at the Central Institute for Mental Health in Germany, explained: “We detected a trend towards stronger biological aging of the brain in individuals with cocaine use disorder compared to individuals without cocaine use disorder. cocaine. This could be caused by cocaine-related disease processes in the brain, such as inflammation or cell death.”

“Further studies are required to investigate this phenomenon, with larger sample sizes than possible here,” the experts concluded.