Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Brain Changes May Be Caused By Oxycontin Abuse

According to US researchers, adolescent brains exposed to the painkiller Oxycontin can sustain lifelong and permanent changes in their reward system.

Mary Jeanne Kreek of Rockefeller University compared levels of the chemical dopamine in adolescent and adult mice in response to increasing doses of the painkiller.

First author Yong Zhang, a research associate, and colleagues found that adolescent mice self-administered Oxycontin less frequently than adults, suggesting that adolescents were more sensitive to its rewarding effects.

The adolescent mice, when re-exposed to a low dose of the drug as adults, also had significantly higher dopamine levels in the brain's reward center compared to adult mice newly exposed to the drug, the researchers said.


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