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Cocaine-use disorder (CUD) has been associated with early life adversity and activated cellular immune responses. Women are most vulnerable to complications from chronic substance disorders, generally presenting an intense feeling of abstinence and consuming significant drug amounts. Here, we investigated neutrophil functional activities in CUD, including the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and related intracellular signalling. We also investigated the role of early life stress in inflammatory profiles.
Blood samples, clinical data, and history of childhood abuse or neglect were collected at the onset of detoxification treatment of 41 female individuals with CUD and 31 healthy controls (HCs). Plasma cytokines, neutrophil phagocytosis, NETs, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and phosphorylated protein kinase B (Akt) and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK)s were assessed by flow cytometry.
CUD subjects had higher scores of childhood trauma than controls. Increased plasma cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, and IL-10), neutrophil phagocytosis, and production of NETs were reported in CUD subjects as compared to HC. Neutrophils of CUD subjects also produced high levels of intracellular ROS and had more activated Akt and MAPKs (p38/ERK), which are essential signalling pathways involved in cell survival and NETs production. Childhood trauma scores were significantly associated with neutrophil activation and peripheral inflammation.
Our study reinforces that smoked cocaine and early life stress activate neutrophils in an inflammatory environment.
Cocaine is a highly addictive psychostimulant that affects synaptic activity with structural and functional adaptations of neurons. The transmembrane synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A (SV2A) of pre-synaptic vesicles is commonly used to measure synaptic density, as a novel approach to the detection of synaptic changes. We do not know if a single dose of cocaine suffices to affect pre-synaptic SV2A density, especially during adolescence when synapses undergo intense maturation. Here, we explored potential changes of pre-synaptic SV2A density in target brain areas associated with the cocaine-induced boost of dopaminergic neurotransmission, specifically testing if the effects would last after the return of dopamine levels to baseline.
We administered cocaine (20 mg/kg i.p.) or saline to rats in early adolescence, tested their activity levels and removed the brains 1 hour and 7 days after injection. To evaluate immediate and lasting effects, we did autoradiography with [3H]UCB-J, a specific tracer for SV2A, in medial prefrontal cortex, striatum, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, and dorsal and ventral areas of hippocampus. We also measured the striatal binding of [3H]GBR-12935 to test cocaine’s occupancy of the dopamine transporter at both times of study.
We found a significant increase of [3H]UCB-J binding in the dorsal and ventral sections of hippocampus 7 days after the cocaine administration compared to saline-injected rats, but no differences 1 hour after the injection. The [3H]GBR-12935 binding remained unchanged at both times.
Cocaine provoked lasting changes of hippocampal synaptic SV2A density after a single exposure during adolescence
With almost one-third of patients with major depression not adequately responsive to treatments, the management of treatment-resistant depression (TRD) has continued to be challenging. Recently, an essential step was taken to replace TRD with difficult-to-treat depression (DTD), pointing to some drawbacks associated with this terminology and identifying addressable barriers. In line with the DTD concept, we discuss why terming this population of patients as TRD could be semantically and clinically misleading. We then suggest replacing TRD with quasi-tenacious depression (QTD), a model and terminology that are derived from a potentially measurable outcome, the tenacity index (TI). QTD predicts that in theory remission is achievable by providing suitable treatments at hand. QTD states that every patient with major depression (even those who respond well) has some degree of tenacity that needs to be overcome by the use of proper treatment modalities. Ergo, in patients with a higher TI, due to the dearth of available armamentaria, one might suffice to achieve a partial resolution of symptoms balanced with an optimal quality of life. However, QTD calls for an incessant pursuit of novel treatments and the identification of contributing factors leading to high TI. On a track toward personalized psychiatry, and in harmony with DTD, QTD embraces all key barriers leading to a failure to treatment response and tries to provide a measurable entity for a better clinical decision while conveying a dynamic positive outlook of the disorder for both patients and health care providers.
The cingulate gyrus is implicated in the neurobiology of addiction, such as chronic cocaine consumption. Early life stress (ELS) is an important moderator of cocaine use disorder (CUD). Therefore, we investigated the effect of CUD on cingulate cortical thickness and tested whether a history of ELS could influence the effects of CUD.
Participants aged 18–50 years (78 with CUD due to crack cocaine consumption and 53 healthy controls) underwent magnetic resonance imaging and the cingulate thickness (rostral anterior, caudal anterior, posterior, and isthmus regions) was analysed. The clinical assessment comprised the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) and the Addiction Severity Index. Group comparisons adjusting by sex, age, and education were performed. Mediation models were generated where lifetime cocaine use, CTQ score, and cortical thickness corresponded to the independent variable, intermediary variable, and outcome, respectively.
Group comparisons revealed significant differences in six out of eight cingulate cortices, showing lower thickness in the CUD group. Furthermore, years of regular cocaine use was the variable most associated with cingulate thickness. Negative correlations were found between CTQ scores and the isthmus cingulate (right hemisphere), as well as with the rostral anterior cingulate (left hemisphere). In the mediation analysis, we observed a significant negative direct effect of lifetime cocaine use on the isthmus cingulate and an indirect effect of cocaine use mediated by CTQ score.
Our findings suggest that a history of ELS could aggravate the negative effects of chronic cocaine use on the cingulate gyrus, particularly in the right isthmus cingulate cortex
Mental disorders can have a major impact on brain development. Peripheral blood concentrations of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are lower in adult psychiatric disorders. Serum BDNF concentrations and BDNF genotype have been associated with cortical maturation in children and adolescents. In 2 large independent samples, this study tests associations between serum BDNF concentrations, brain structure, and psychopathology, and the effects of BDNF genotype on BDNF serum concentrations in late childhood and early adolescence.
Children and adolescents (7-14 years old) from 2 cities (n = 267 in Porto Alegre; n = 273 in São Paulo) were evaluated as part of the Brazilian high-risk cohort (HRC) study. Serum BDNF concentrations were quantified by sandwich ELISA. Genotyping was conducted from blood or saliva samples using the SNParray Infinium HumanCore Array BeadChip. Subcortical volumes and cortical thickness were quantified using FreeSurfer. The Development and Well-Being Behavior Assessment was used to identify the presence of a psychiatric disorder.
Serum BDNF concentrations were not associated with subcortical volumes or with cortical thickness. Serum BDNF concentration did not differ between participants with and without mental disorders, or between Val homozygotes and Met carriers.
No evidence was found to support serum BDNF concentrations as a useful marker of developmental differences in brain and behavior in early life. Negative findings were replicated in 2 of the largest independent samples investigated to date.
The ability to predict reward and punishment is essential for decision-making and the ability to learn about an ever-changing environment. Therefore, efforts have been made in understanding the mechanisms underlying decision-making, especially regarding how affective and deliberative processes interact with risk behavior. Objective: To adapt to Brazilian Portuguese the Columbia Card Task (CCT) and investigate affective and deliberative processes involved in decision-making. Methods: This study had two main phases: (1) a transcultural adaptation and (2) a pilot study. Results: The feedback manipulation among the three conditions of CCT had an effect on the risk-taking level (p < .005, ES = .201). In addition, the feedback manipulation among the three conditions of CCT had an effect on the information use at both the individual and group levels. Further, a linear regression suggested that the use of information, indicated by the advantageous level of the scenarios, predict the number of cards chosen R2 = .029, p < .001, accounting for 17% of the variance. Conclusions: The Brazilian CCT performs well and is a versatile method for the assessment of affective and deliberative decision-making under risk according to different feedback manipulation scenarios. This study goes further, comparing electrodermal activity during hot and warm conditions and addressing an advantageous level index analysis to asses deliberative processing.
An emerging body of evidence points to impairments in neuroplasticity, cell resilience, and neuronal survival as major pathophysiological mechanisms in bipolar disorder. Neuronal survival is influenced by several factors including an orchestrated action of neurotransmitters, hormones, and neurotrophins. Patients with bipolar disorder exhibit increased peripheral level of inflammatory mediators such as cytokines, mainly during acute mood episodes. These mediators interact in several pathways involved in regulation of mood and energy including hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and monoamine metabolism. Importantly, inflammatory cytokines have a potential role in controlling neuronal and glial cell loss that occurs during mood episodes, especially during mania, as they are the most powerful extracellular stimuli to apoptosis. Bipolar patients have been reported to show imbalanced peripheral production of cytokines both at the mRNA and protein levels, associated signal transduction machinery, as well as to have specific functional polymorphisms in the genes that encode these cytokines. Interestingly, lithium, valproate, and several antidepressants have demonstrated to have immunomodulatory properties. Growing evidence supports the involvement of inflammatory mechanisms in bipolar disorder, opening new paths of investigation using immunomodulatory medications. These findings can offer not only an opportunity of treating mood symptoms but also understanding and reverting neurobiological changes associated with the disorder.
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