In extending the use of functional MRI to neuropharmacology, a primary area of concern is that peripheral blood pressure changes induced by pharmacological agents could independently produce a change in the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal, resulting in difficulties distinguishing or interpreting drug-induced neural activations. In the present study, we utilized intravenous dobutamine, a beta-adrenergic receptor agonist, to increase the mean arterial blood pressure (MABP), while examining the effects of MABP changes on the BOLD signal in cocaine-dependent participants. Dobutamine infusion significantly increased the MABP from 93 +/- 8 mm Hg to 106 +/- 12 mm Hg (P < 0.0005), but did not produce a significant global BOLD signal. Yet, a few voxels in the anterior cingulate showed BOLD signal changes that paralleled the changes in blood pressure (BP). Our observations support the conclusion that following the infusion of psychoactive agents, brain BOLD signals accurately reflect neuronal activity, even in the face of relatively large peripheral cardiovascular effects that transiently increase systemic BP.
"A second consideration is that drugs might alter overall cerebral blood flow and blood volume and hence change the magnitude of localised BOLD responses (Brown and Eyler, 2006) complicating interpretation of drug effects. These may occur with centrally acting vasoactive agents such as carbon dioxide and acetazolamide (Brown and Eyler, 2006) whereas autoregulation of cerebral blood flow is sufficient to compensate for changes in peripheral blood pressure over a wide 'normal' physiological range (Gozzi et al., 2007; Liu et al., 2006). In general 5-HT manipulations are not thought to have significant central vasoactive effects. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A number of novel ways of using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualise the action of drugs on animal and human brain (pharmacoMRI or phMRI) are becoming established tools in translational psychopharmacology. Using drugs with known pharmacology it is possible to investigate how neurotransmitter systems are involved in neural systems engaged by other processes, such as cognitive challenge (modulation phMRI) or to examine the acute effects of the drug itself in the brain (challenge phMRI). In this article we discuss the principles behind phMRI and review studies investigating the effect of serotonin (5-HT) manipulations. 5-HT modulation phMRI studies show the involvement of 5-HT in a broad range of neural processes ranging from motor function through 'cold' cognition, such as memory and response inhibition, to emotional processing. We highlight findings in brain areas that show some consistency or complementarity across studies, such as the ventrolateral orbitofrontal cortex where modulation by 5-HT is task-specific, and the amygdala in emotional processing where 5-HT is predominantly inhibitory. 5-HT challenge phMRI is promising but as yet few studies have been carried out. New ways of analysing phMRI data include connectivity analysis which holds the promise of going beyond identifying isolated areas of activation/modulation to understanding functional circuits and their neurochemistry. 5-HT phMRI now needs to be taken into patient populations and methods of investigating treatment effects need to be developed. If this is successful then phMRI will provide a genuinely exciting opportunity for the rapid development of better treatments for psychiatric conditions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human expectation of psychoactive drugs significantly alters drug effects and behavioral responses. However, their neurophysiological mechanisms are not clear. This study investigates how cocaine expectation modulates human brain responses to acute cocaine administration.
Twenty-six right-handed non-treatment-seeking regular cocaine abusers participated in this study. Changes in blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signals were measured, and online behavioral ratings during cocaine expectation and acute cocaine administration were recorded.
Distinct regional characteristics in BOLD responses to expected and unexpected cocaine infusions were observed in the medial orbitofrontal gyrus (Brodmann area [BA] 11), frontal pole (BA 10), and anterior cingulate gyrus regions. Active engagement in the amygdala and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC; BA 47) by unexpected but not expected cocaine infusion was discovered. Cocaine expectation did not change BOLD responses to acute cocaine administration in a set of subcortical substrates, the nucleus accumbens, ventral putamen, ventral tegmental area, and thalamus.
These results suggest that cocaine expectation modulates neural-sensitivity adaptation between the expected events and the actual outcomes but did not modulate the pharmacological characteristics of cocaine. In addition, the amygdala-lateral OFC circuitry plays an important role in mediating stimulus-outcome relations and contextual factors of drug abuse.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hypertension is associated with mild decrements in cognition. In addition, regional cerebral blood flow responses during memory processing are blunted in parietal and thalamic areas among untreated hypertensive adults, who, compared with normotensive subjects, manifest greater correlation in blood flow response across task-related brain regions. Here, we test whether pharmacological treatment of hypertension normalizes regional cerebral blood flow responses and whether it does so differentially according to drug class. Treatment with lisinopril, an angiotensin-converting enzyme blocker, known to enhance vasodilative responsivity, was compared with treatment with atenolol, a beta-blocker. Untreated hypertensive volunteers (n=28) were randomly assigned and treated for 1 year. Whole brain and regional cerebral flow responses to memory processing and acutely administered acetazolamide, a vasodilator, were assessed pretreatment and posttreatment. Peripheral brachial artery dilation during reactive hyperemia was also measured. Quantitative blood flow measures showed no difference in the magnitude of regional cerebral blood flow responses pretreatment and posttreatment to either memory tasks or acetazolamide injection. Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation increased with treatment. No differences between medications were observed. In brain regions active in memory processing, however, regional cerebral blood flow responses were more highly correlated after treatment. Specificity of cerebral blood flow to different regions appears to decline with treatment of hypertension. This greater correlation among active brain regions, which is present as well in untreated hypertensive relative to normotensive volunteers, may represent compensation in the face of less region-specific responsivity in individuals with hypertension.
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