Increased occupancy of dopamine receptors in human striatum during cue-elicited cocaine craving

Dean F. Wong, Hiroto Kuwabara, David J. Schretlen, Katherine R. Bonson, Yun Zhou, Ayon Nandi, James R. Brašić, Alane S. Kimes, Marika A. Maris, Anil Kumar, Carlo Contoreggi, Jonathan Links, Monique Ernst, Olivier Rousset, Stephen Zukin, Anthony A. Grace, Charles Rohde, Donald R. Jasinski, Albert Gjedde, Edythe D. London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


In all, 19 research subjects, with current histories of frequent cocaine use, were exposed to cocaine-related cues to elicit drug craving. We measured the change of occupancy of dopamine at D2-like receptors with positron emission tomography (PET) and inferred a change of intrasynaptic dopamine (endogenous dopamine release), based on the displacement of radiotracer [ 11C]raclopride. Receptor occupancy by dopamine increased significantly in putamen of participants who reported cue-elicited craving compared to those who did not. Further, the intensity of craving was positively correlated with the increase in dopamine receptor occupancy in the putamen. These results provide direct evidence that occupancy of dopamine receptors in human dorsal striatum increased in proportion to subjective craving, presumably because of increased release of intrasynaptic dopamine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2716-2727
Number of pages12
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 4 2006


  • Cocaine
  • Cue-elicited craving
  • Dopamine receptors
  • Dopamine release
  • PET neuroimaging
  • Receptor occupancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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