Estrogen tied to drug vulnerability. (Hormones).
A series of studies on approximately 200 rats showing that female ones who received estrogen as well as cocaine over a period of three weeks exhibit 20-50% more "sensitization" than either female rats who did not receive estrogen or males. Sensitization was measured by quantifying repetitive movements of the head and forelimbs, and turning in circles. Drug sensitization is thought to cause craving for a drug like cocaine, Becker notes. For example, rats who are sensitized after repeated drug doses learn to self-administer cocaine faster and at lower doses than other animals. These changes in behavior persisted after the female rats, all of whose ovaries had been surgically removed, stopped receiving estrogen.
"We know from other studies that sensitization to cocaine results in structural changes in the brain that persist for some time," Becker indicates. "Our results suggest that estrogen not only affects the acute response to cocaine, but also intensifies the long-term changes that occur in the brain. These results are important for our understanding of the basic neural processes that lead to drug addiction, and for our understanding of why some individuals may be more at risk than others."
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|Title Annotation:||medical research|
|Publication:||USA Today (Magazine)|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2003|
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