Sex differences in psychiatric comorbidity and plasma biomarkers for cocaine addiction in abstinent cocaine-addicted subjects in outpatient settings

María Pedraz, Pedro Araos, Nuria García-Marchena, Antonia Serrano, Pablo Romero-Sanchiz, Juan Suárez, Estela Castilla-Ortega, Fermín Mayoral-Cleries, Juan Jesús Ruiz, Antoni Pastor, Vicente Barrios, Julie A. Chowen, Jesús Argente, Marta Torrens, Rafael De la Torre, Fernando Rodríguez De Fonseca, Francisco Javier Pavón

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© 2015 Pedraz, Araos, García-Marchena, Serrano, Romero-Sanchiz, Suárez, Castilla-Ortega, Mayoral-Cleries, Ruiz, Pastor, Barrios, Chowen, Argente, Torrens, de la Torre, Rodríguez De Fonseca and Pavón. There are sex differences in the progression of drug addiction, relapse, and response to therapies. Because biological factors participate in these differences, they should be considered when using biomarkers for addiction. In the current study, we evaluated the sex differences in psychiatric comorbidity and the concentrations of plasma mediators that have been reported to be affected by cocaine. Fifty-five abstinent cocaine-addicted subjects diagnosed with lifetime cocaine use disorders (40 men and 15 women) and 73 healthy controls (48 men and 25 women) were clinically assessed with the diagnostic interview "Psychiatric Research Interview for Substance and Mental Disorders." Plasma concentrations of chemokines, cytokines, N-acyl-ethanolamines, and 2-acyl-glycerols were analyzed according to history of cocaine addiction and sex, controlling for covariates age and body mass index (BMI). Relationships between these concentrations and variables related to cocaine addiction were also analyzed in addicted subjects. The results showed that the concentrations of chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2/monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (CCL2/MCP-1) and chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 12/stromal cell-derived factor-1 (CXCL12/SDF-1) were only affected by history of cocaine addiction. The plasma concentrations of interleukin 1-beta (IL-1β), IL-6, IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) were affected by history of cocaine addiction and sex. In fact, whereas cytokine concentrations were higher in control women relative to men, these concentrations were reduced in cocaine-addicted women without changes in addicted men. Regarding fatty acid derivatives, history of cocaine addiction had a main effect on the concentration of each acyl derivative, whereas N-acyl-ethanolamines were increased overall in the cocaine group, 2-acyl-glycerols were decreased. Interestingly, N-palmitoleoyl-ethanolamine (POEA) was only increased in cocaine-addicted women. The covariate BMI had a significant effect on POEA and N-arachidonoyl-ethanolamine concentrations. Regarding psychiatric comorbidity in the cocaine group, women had lower incidence rates of comorbid substance use disorders than did men. For example, alcohol use disorders were found in 80% of men and 40% of women. In contrast, the addicted women had increased prevalences of comorbid psychiatric disorders (i.e., mood, anxiety, and psychosis disorders). Additionally, cocaine-addicted subjects showed a relationship between the concentrations of N-stearoyl-ethanolamine and 2-linoleoyl-glycerol and diagnosis of psychiatric comorbidity. These results demonstrate the existence of a sex influence on plasma biomarkers for cocaine addiction and on the presence of comorbid psychopathologies for clinical purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Issue numberFEB
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Abstinence
  • Biomarker
  • Cocaine use disorders
  • Cytokine
  • Endocannabinoid
  • Outpatient
  • Psychiatric comorbidity
  • Sex


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