Cerebral glucose metabolism and D2/D3 receptor availability in young adults with cannabis dependence measured with positron emission tomography

Serge Sevy, Gwenn S. Smith, Yilong Ma, Vijay Dhawan, Thomas Chaly, Peter B. Kingsley, Sanjiv Kumra, Sherif Abdelmessih, David Eidelberg

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65 Scopus citations


Introduction: Cannabis users have been reported to have decreased regional cerebral glucose metabolism after short periods of abstinence. The purpose of this study was to measure striatal dopamine receptor (D2/D 3) availability and cerebral glucose metabolism with positron emission tomography (PET) in young adults who had a prolonged exposure to cannabis and who had been abstinent for a period of at least 12 weeks. Materials and methods: Six 18-21-year-old male subjects with cannabis dependence in early full remission and six age- and sex-matched healthy subjects underwent PET scans for D2/D3 receptor availability measured with [C11]-raclopride and glucose metabolism measured with [18F]-FDG. All subjects were sober for at least 12 weeks before PET scan procedures. PET data were analyzed with statistical parametric mapping software (SPM99; uncorrected p<0.001, corrected p<0.05 at the cluster level). Toxicology screening was performed prior to the PET scan to confirm the lack of drugs of abuse. Observation and results: Striatal D2/D3 receptor availability did not differ significantly between groups. Compared to controls, subjects with cannabis dependence had lower normalized glucose metabolism in the right orbitofrontal cortex, putamen bilaterally, and precuneus. There were no significant correlations between striatal D2/D3 receptor availability and normalized glucose metabolism in any region of the frontal cortex or striatum. Conclusion: These findings may reflect both cannabis exposure and adaptive changes that occur after a prolonged period of abstinence. Subsequent studies should address whether metabolic and dopamine receptor effects are associated with either active use or longer-term withdrawal in these relatively young subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-556
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by the National Institute Health, grants K23 DA015541 (SS), K02 MH01621, MH 64823 (GS), M01 RR018535, and a Faculty Award from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research (Manhasset, NY) (SS). David Bjelke, CNMT and Claude Margouleff, B.S. are gratefully acknowledged for their contribution to the conduct of the PET studies. We thank Terry Goldberg, PhD for his review of the manuscript, Steve Grant, PhD of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Barbara Napolitano, MS for their helpful comments.


  • ([18F]-FDG
  • Cannabis
  • D/D receptor
  • Dependence
  • Glucose metabolism
  • [11C]-raclopride


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