Striatal D2/D3 receptor availability is inversely correlated with cannabis consumption in chronic marijuana users

Daniel S. Albrecht, Patrick D. Skosnik, Jennifer M. Vollmer, Margaret S. Brumbaugh, Kevin M. Perry, Bruce H. Mock, Qi Huang Zheng, Lauren A. Federici, Elizabeth A. Patton, Christine M. Herring, Karmen K. Yoder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations


Background: Although the incidence of cannabis abuse/dependence in Americans is rising, the neurobiology of cannabis addiction is not well understood. Imaging studies have demonstrated deficits in striatal D2/D3 receptor availability in several substance-dependent populations. However, this has not been studied in currently using chronic cannabis users. Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare striatal D2/D3 receptor availability between currently using chronic cannabis users and healthy controls. Methods: Eighteen right-handed males age 18-34 were studied. Ten subjects were chronic cannabis users; eight were demographically matched controls. Subjects underwent a [11C]raclopride (RAC) PET scan. Striatal RAC binding potential (BPND) was calculated on a voxel-wise basis. Prior to scanning, urine samples were obtained from cannabis users for quantification of urine Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and THC metabolites (11-nor-Δ-9-THC-9-carboxylic acid; THC-COOH and 11-hydroxy-THC;OH-THC). Results: There were no differences in D2/D3 receptor availability between cannabis users and controls. Voxel-wise analyses revealed that RAC BPND values were negatively associated with both urine levels of cannabis metabolites and self-report of recent cannabis consumption. Conclusions: In this sample, current cannabis use was not associated with deficits in striatal D2/D3 receptor availability. There was an inverse relationship between chronic cannabis use and striatal RAC BPND. Additional studies are needed to identify the neurochemical consequences of chronic cannabis use on the dopamine system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013



  • Cannabis
  • D receptor
  • Dopamine
  • Marijuana
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Raclopride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

Cite this

Albrecht, D. S., Skosnik, P. D., Vollmer, J. M., Brumbaugh, M. S., Perry, K. M., Mock, B. H., Zheng, Q. H., Federici, L. A., Patton, E. A., Herring, C. M., & Yoder, K. K. (2013). Striatal D2/D3 receptor availability is inversely correlated with cannabis consumption in chronic marijuana users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 128(1-2), 52-57.