OBJECTIVE The authors examined dopamine transporter density in the orbitofrontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and amygdala in methamphetamine users and assessed the relationship of these measures to the subjects' clinical characteristics. METHOD Positron emission tomography with [(11)C]WIN 35,428 was used to examine the regions of interest in 11 methamphetamine users and nine healthy comparison subjects. Psychiatric symptoms were evaluated with the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. RESULTS Dopamine transporter density in the three regions studied was significantly lower in the methamphetamine users than in the comparison subjects. The lower dopamine transporter density in the orbitofrontal and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was significantly correlated with the duration of methamphetamine use and the severity of psychiatric symptoms. CONCLUSIONS Chronic methamphetamine use may cause dopamine transporter reduction in the orbitofrontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and amygdala in the brain. Psychiatric symptoms in methamphetamine users may be attributable to the decrease in dopamine transporter density in the orbitofrontal cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
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