Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels and cocaine-induced transient psychotic symptoms

Margarida Corominas-Roso, Carlos Roncero, Francisco Jose Eiroa-Orosa, Marta Ribasés, Carmen Barral, Constanza Daigre, Nieves Martínez-Luna, Cristina Sánchez-Mora, Josep Antoni Ramos-Quiroga, Miguel Casas

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cocaine-induced psychosis (CIP) is among the most serious adverse effects of cocaine. Reduced serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels have been reported in schizophrenia and psychosis; however, studies assessing the involvement of BDNF in CIP are lacking. Methods: A total of 22 cocaine-dependent patients (aged 33.65 ± 6.85) who had never experienced psychotic symptoms under the influence of cocaine (non-CIP) and 18 patients (aged 34.18 ± 8.54) with a history of CIP completed a 2-week detoxification program in an inpatient facility. Two serum samples were collected from each patient at baseline and at the end of the protocol. Demographic, consumption and clinical data were recorded for all patients. A paired group of healthy controls was also included. Results: At the beginning of the detoxification treatment, serum BDNF levels were similar in both the non-CIP and the CIP groups. During early abstinence, the non-CIP group exhibited a significant increase in serum BDNF levels (p = 0.030), whereas the CIP group exhibited a decrease. Improvements in depression (Beck Depression Inventory, BDI, p = 0.003) and withdrawal symptoms (Cocaine Selective Severity Assessment, CSSA, p = 0.013) show a significant positive correlation with serum BDNF levels in the non-CIP group, whereas no correlation between the same variables was found in the CIP group. Conclusions: This study suggests that BDNF plays a role in the transient psychotic symptoms associated with cocaine consumption. In the non-CIP group, the increase in serum BDNF appears to be driven by the effects of chronic cocaine consumption and withdrawal. In contrast, patients with CIP share some of the neurotrophic deficiencies that characterize schizophrenia and psychosis. Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-155
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013


  • Addiction
  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • Cocaine
  • Cocaine-induced psychosis


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