Functional polymorphisms in the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1 or SLC6A3) modulate responsiveness to salient stimuli, such that carriers of one 9R-allele of DAT1 (compared with homozygote carriers of the 10R-allele) show heightened reactivity to drug-related reinforcement in addiction. Here, using multimodal neuroimaging and behavioral dependent variables in 73 human cocaine-addicted individuals and 47 healthy controls, we hypothesized and found that cocaine-addicted carriers of a 9R-allele exhibited higher responses to drug cues, but only among individuals who had used cocaine within 72 h of the study as verified by positive cocaine urine screens (a state characterized by intense craving). Importantly, this responsiveness to drug cues was reliably preserved across multimodal imaging and behavioral probes: psychophysiological event-related potentials, self-report, simulated cocaine choice, and fMRI. Because drug cues contribute to relapse, our results identify the DAT1R 9R-allele as a vulnerability allele for relapse especially during early abstinence (e.g., detoxification).
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