Cerebral metabolism in opiate-dependent subjects: Effects of methadone maintenance

Igor I. Galynker, Sniezyna Watras-Ganz, Christian Miner, Richard N. Rosenthal, Don C. Des Jarlais, Beverly L. Richman, Edythe London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The long-term effects of opiate use on human brain are not known. The goal of this preliminary study was to determine whether human subjects with histories of opiate dependence have persistent differences in brain function as compared with individuals without substance use disorders, and whether methadone maintenance reverses or ameliorates the potential abnormality. Methods: Positron emission tomographic (PET) [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) method was used to compare the regional cerebral metabolic rate for glucose (rCMRglc) in three groups: four opiate-dependent subjects currently receiving methadone maintenance therapy (MM), four opiate-dependent subjects not receiving methadone maintenance therapy (MW), and a comparison group of five subjects without substance use disorders. Results: A significant difference in rCMRglc in the anterior cingulate gyrus was found between the MW and Control groups (Mann-Whitney U = 2.0, p = 0.05). Generally speaking, rCMRglc's in MM subjects were intermediate between those of MW and Control groups, although the difference did not reach statistical significance. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that neurobiological abnormalities can persist in the brain of a chronic opiate user several years after detoxification from methadone. Future research is needed to replicate these results and to determine whether the observed rCMRglc differences are related to opiate use or to neurochemical abnormalities that play a role in developing addictive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-387
Number of pages7
JournalMount Sinai Journal of Medicine
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Oct 2000


  • Cerebral metabolism
  • Methadone maintenance
  • Opiate dependency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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