Cocaine kills neurons in a single day of abuse

December 12, 2011
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A group of Argentine researchers of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) proved that cocaine produces neuronal damage in a short-term.

According to research, “a day of abuse of this drug is sufficient to alter the sleep-wake rhythms and neural changes occur by affecting the cortex and thalamus of the brain. This is composed of different aggregates of neurons, which are located in the center of the brain. The thalamus receives sensory stimuli that are processed and forwarded to the cerebral cortex, such as sight.”

The study was conducted with young mice after a ‘binge’ of cocaine, and found that “the circuit to the thalamus to the cortex is affected with only one instead of drug abuse.”

CONICET scientists applied three injections of cocaine for one day to emulate the compulsive use of a person who repeats the application of the dose.

Francisco Urbano, a team of researchers explained that “We saw similar changes to those of Parkinson or epilepsy after EEG obtained in mice, it was found that after cocaine administration electrical activity corresponded to the stage of sleep and to awake.”

But it also put the focus on the neurons of the thalamus, in particular on channels called “T”, which transmit signals from the neuronal membrane. When these channels are activated in excess, they generated in the individual electrical frequencies that belong to the range of sleep, despite being awake.

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