Quantitative medial temporal lobe brain morphology and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function in cocaine dependence: a preliminary report

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2001 Mar 1;62(1):49-56. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(00)00159-9.


Preclinical and clinical studies have shown that cocaine increases plasma adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) and cortisol. Chronic elevation of plasma cortisol exerts direct toxic effects upon hippocampal neurons and exacerbates hippocampal damage resulting from ischemia and seizures. The authors tested for evidence of hippocampal damage in patients with chronic cocaine dependence. Medial temporal lobe and total brain volumes were quantified using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 27 patients with cocaine dependence and 16 healthy subjects. Basal and ovine corticotropin releasing hormone (oCRH) stimulated ACTH and cortisol levels were also examined in a subset of 8 healthy and 9 cocaine dependent subjects after 21 days of abstinence. No evidence for decreased hippocampal or total brain volume in cocaine dependence was observed. Similarly, basal and oCRH stimulated ACTH and cortisol levels in cocaine dependent patients did not differ from those in healthy subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / drug effects
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Area Under Curve
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / blood
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / pathology*
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / drug effects
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / drug effects
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Temporal Lobe / drug effects
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology


  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone