Findings from a new study show iron dysregulation occurs in cocaine addiction and suggest that it arises consequent to chronic cocaine use.
The findings, published this week, follow a study of 44 individuals who were addicted to cocaine and 44 healthy control volunteers. The researchers detected excessive amounts of iron in the globus pallidus cocaine addicts and altered peripheral iron homeostasis, which strongly correlated with duration of cocaine use.
“Given the important role that iron plays in both health and disease, iron metabolism is normally tightly regulated,” explained author, Dr Karen Ersche from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge . “Long-term cocaine use, however, seems to disrupt this regulation, which may cause significant harm.”
The researchers now aim to identify the precise mechanisms by which cocaine interacts with iron regulation. Writing in Translational Psychiatry , they said:”Understanding the mechanisms by which cocaine affects iron metabolism may reveal novel therapeutic targets, and determine the value of iron levels in the brain and periphery as biomarkers of vulnerability to, as well as progression and response to, treatment of cocaine addiction.”