Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Brain Sciences

Chair in Addiction Biology



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Publication Type

324 results found

Turton S, Myers J, Mick I, Colasanti A, Venkataraman A, Durant C, Waldman A, Brailsford A, Parkin M, Rabiner EA, Gunn R, Lightman S, Nutt D, Lingford-Hughes ARet al., 2020, Blunted endogenous opioid release following an oral dexamphetamine challenge in abstinent alcohol dependent individuals, Molecular Psychiatry, Vol: 25, Pages: 1749-1758, ISSN: 1359-4184

Addiction has been proposed as a ‘reward deficient’ state, which is compensated for with substance use. There is growing evidence of dysregulation in the opioid system, which plays a key role in reward, underpinning addiction. Low levels of endogenous opioids are implicated in vulnerability for developing alcohol dependence (AD) and high mu-opioid receptor (MOR) availability in early abstinence is associated with greater craving. This high MOR availability is proposed to be the target of opioid antagonist medication to prevent relapse. However, changes in endogenous opioid tone in AD are poorly characterised and are important to understand as opioid antagonists do not help everyone with AD. We used [11C]carfentanil, a selective MOR agonist positron emission tomography (PET) radioligand, to investigate endogenous opioid tone in AD for the first time. We recruited 13 abstinent male AD and 15 control participants who underwent two [11C]carfentanil PET scans, one before and one 3 h following a 0.5 mg/kg oral dose of dexamphetamine to measure baseline MOR availability and endogenous opioid release. We found significantly blunted dexamphetamine-induced opioid release in 5 out of 10 regions-of-interest including insula, frontal lobe and putamen in AD compared with controls, but no significantly higher MOR availability AD participants compared with HC in any region. This study is comparable to our previous results of blunted dexamphetamine-induced opioid release in gambling disorder, suggesting that this dysregulation in opioid tone is common to both behavioural and substance addictions.

Journal article

Nutt D, Nestor L, Suckling J, Ersche K, Murphy A, McGonigle J, Orban C, Paterson L, Reed L, Taylor E, Flechais R, Smith D, Bullmore E, Elliott R, Deakin B, Rabiner I, Lingford Hughes A, Sahakian B, Robbins T, Nutt Det al., 2020, Disturbances across whole brain networks during reward anticipation in an abstinent addiction population., NeuroImage: Clinical, Vol: 27, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 2213-1582

The prevalent spatial distribution of abnormalities reported in cognitive fMRI studies in addiction suggests there are extensive disruptions across whole brain networks. Studies using resting state have reported disruptions in network connectivity in addiction, but these studies have not revealed characteristics of network functioning during critical psychological processes that are disrupted in addiction populations. Analytic methods that can capture key features of whole brain networks during psychological processes may be more sensitive in revealing additional and widespread neural disturbances in addiction, that are the provisions for relapse risk, and targets for medication development. The current study compared a substance addiction (ADD; n = 83) group in extended abstinence with a control (CON; n = 68) group on functional MRI (voxel-wise activation) and global network (connectivity) measures related to reward anticipation on a monetary incentive delay task. In the absence of group differences on MID performance, the ADD group showed reduced activation predominantly across temporal and visual regions, but not across the striatum. The ADD group also showed disruptions in global network connectivity (lower clustering coefficient and higher characteristic path length), and significantly less connectivity across a sub-network comprising frontal, temporal, limbic and striatal nodes. These results show that an addiction group in extended abstinence exhibit localised disruptions in brain activation, but more extensive disturbances in functional connectivity across whole brain networks. We propose that measures of global network functioning may be more sensitive in highlighting latent and more widespread neural disruptions during critical psychological processes in addiction and other psychiatric disorders.

Journal article

Marques TR, Ashok AH, Angelescu I, Borgan F, Myers J, Lingford-Hughes A, Nutt DJ, Veronese M, Turkheimer FE, Howes ODet al., 2020, GABA-A receptor differences in schizophrenia: a positron emission tomography study using [C-11]Ro154513, Molecular Psychiatry, Vol: 26, Pages: 2616-2625, ISSN: 1359-4184

A loss of GABA signaling is a prevailing hypothesis for the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. Preclinical studies indicate that blockade of the α5 subtype of the GABA receptor (α5-GABAARs) leads to behavioral phenotypes associated with schizophrenia, and postmortem evidence indicates lower hippocampal α5-GABAARs protein and mRNA levels in schizophrenia. However, it is unclear if α5-GABAARs are altered in vivo or related to symptoms. We investigated α5-GABAARs availability in antipsychotic-free schizophrenia patients and antipsychotic-medicated schizophrenia patients using [11C]Ro15-4513 PET imaging in a cross-sectional, case–control study design. Thirty-one schizophrenia patients (n = 10 antipsychotic free) and twenty-nine matched healthy controls underwent a [11C]Ro15-4513 PET scan and MRI. The α5 subtype GABA-A receptor availability was indexed using [11C]Ro15-4513 PET imaging. Dynamic PET data were analyzed using the two-tissue compartment model with an arterial plasma input function and total volume of distribution (VT) as the outcome measure. Symptom severity was assessed using the PANSS scale. There was significantly lower [11C]Ro15-4513 VT in the hippocampus of antipsychotic-free patients, but not in medicated patients (p = 0.64), relative to healthy controls (p < 0.05; effect size = 1.4). There was also a significant positive correlation between [11C]Ro15-4513 VT and total PANSS score in antipsychotic-free patients (r = 0.72; p = 0.044). The results suggest that antipsychotic-free patients with schizophrenia have lower α5-GABAARs levels in the hippocampus, consistent with the hypothesis that GABA hypofunction underlies the pathophysiology of the disorder.

Journal article

Erritzoe D, Ashok AH, Searle GE, Colasanti A, Turton S, Lewis Y, Huiban M, Moz S, Passchier J, Saleem A, Beaver J, Lingford-Hughes A, Nutt DJ, Howes O, Gunn RN, Knudsen GM, Rabiner Eet al., 2020, Serotonin release measured in the human brain: A PET study with [11C]CIMBI-36 and d-amphetamine challenge, Neuropsychopharmacology, Vol: 45, Pages: 804-810, ISSN: 0893-133X

Positron emission tomography (PET) enables non-invasive estimation of neurotransmitter fluctuations in the living human brain. While these methods have been applied to dopamine and some other transmitters, estimation of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT; Serotonin) release has proved to be challenging. Here we demonstrate the utility of the novel 5-HT2A receptor agonist radioligand, [11C]CIMBI-36, and a d-amphetamine challenge to evaluate synaptic 5-HT changes in the living human brain. Seventeen healthy male volunteers received [11C]CIMBI-36 PET scans before and 3 hours after an oral dose of d-amphetamine (0.5 mg/kg). Dynamic PET data were acquired over 90 minutes, and the total volume of distribution (VT) in the frontal cortex and the cerebellum derived from a kinetic analysis using MA1. The frontal cortex binding potential (BPNDfrontal) was calculated as (VTfrontal/VTcerebellum)-1. BPNDfrontal = 1- (BPNDfrontalpost-dose/ BPNDfrontalbaseline) was used as an index of 5-HT release. Statistical inference was tested by means of a paired Students t-test evaluating a reduction in post-amphetamine [11C]CIMBI-36 BPNDfrontal .Following d-amphetamine administration, [11C]CIMBI-36 BPNDfrontal was reduced by 14 ± 13 % (p = 0.002). Similar effects were observed in other cortical regions examined in an exploratory analysis.[11C]CIMBI-36 binding is sensitive to synaptic serotonin release in the human brain, and when combined with a d-amphetamine challenge, the evaluation of the human brain serotonin system in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as major depression and Parkinson’s disease is enabled.

Journal article

Hayes A, Wing V, McGonigle J, Turton S, Elliot R, Ersche KD, Flechais R, Orban C, Murphy A, Smith DG, Suckling J, Taylor EM, Deakin JF, Robbins TW, Nutt DJ, Lingford-Hughes AR, Paterson LMet al., 2020, The relationship between reward processing and impulsivity in addiction: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study, ECNP Workshop on Junior Scientists in Europe, Publisher: ELSEVIER, Pages: S70-S71, ISSN: 0924-977X

Introduction: Evidence suggests that abnormalities in reward processing and increased impulsivity contribute to the pathophysiology of addiction. However, the relationship between the two is currently not well characterised. This study used fMRI to investigate the BOLD response during reward and inhibitory control tasks and how such responses were associated with subjective and behavioural measures of impulsivity in abstinent alcohol, cocaine and polydrug addiction. We hypothesized a negative correlation between non-drug related reward anticipation and impulsivity measures in polydrug and alcohol dependence compared with healthy controls owing to increased impulsivity and thus more inhibitory control effort needed to maintain successful abstinence.Methods: Abstinent alcohol dependent (AD, n=27), polydrug dependent (PD, n=57) and healthy control (HC, n=65) participants were recruited [1] (REC number 11/H0707/9). Participants completed a battery of impulsivity measures; the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11) and the Urgency, Premeditation, (lack of), Perseverance (lack of), Sensation Seeking, Positive Urgency, Impulsive Behaviour Scale (UPPS-P) to measure trait impulsivity, the Kirby Delay Discounting task to measure choice impulsivity and the Stop Signal Task (SST) to measure impulsive action. Participants also underwent fMRI scanning (3-T) using the monetary incentive delay (MID) and Go/No-go (GNG) tasks. An a-priori region of interest approach was used to image BOLD response during the following contrasts: reward anticipation>neutral anticipation and no-go/go in the rIFG, OFC and caudate. Data was analysed using ANOVA or Kruskal- Wallis tests (with Tukey or Mann-Whitney U post-hoc tests respectively) and Pearson's or Spearman's rank correlations, as appropriate. Holm-Bonferroni correction was applied.Results: There were significant group differences in the BIS-11 (p<0.001), UPPS-P (p<0.001) and Kirby Delay Discounting task (p=0.002). Appropriate post-hoc

Conference paper

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