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Interplay between Cocaine, Drug Removal, and Methylphenidate Reversal on Phospholipid Alterations in Drosophila Brain Determined by Imaging Mass Spectrometry

Journal article
Authors Mai H. Philipsen
Nhu TN Phan
John S. Fletcher
Andrew G Ewing
Published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience
Volume 11
Issue 5
Pages 806-813
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
National Center for Imaging Mass Spectrometry
Pages 806-813
Language en
Keywords cocaine removal, Drosophila, lipids, Mass spectrometry imaging, methylphenidate
Subject categories Analytical Chemistry


Cocaine dependence displays a broad impairment in cognitive performance including attention, learning, and memory. To obtain a better understanding of the action of cocaine in the nervous system, and the relation between phospholipids and memory, we have investigated whether phospholipids recover in the brain following cocaine removal using the fly model, Drosophila melanogaster. In addition, the effects of methylphenidate, a substitute medication for cocaine dependence, on fly brain lipids after cocaine abuse are also determined to see if it can rescue the lipid changes caused by cocaine. Time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry with a (CO2)6000+ gas cluster ion beam was used to detect intact phospholipids. We show that cocaine has persistent effects, both increasing and decreasing the levels of specific phosphatidylethanolamines and phosphatidylinositols. These changes remain after cocaine withdrawal and are not rescued by methylphenidate. Cocaine is again shown to generally increase the levels of phosphatidylcholines in the fly brain; however, after drug withdrawal, the abundance of these lipids returns to the original level and methylphenidate treatment of the flies following cocaine exposure enhances the reversal of the lipid level reducing them below the original control. The study provides insight into the molecular effects of cocaine and methylphenidate on brain lipids. We suggest that phosphatidylcholines could be a potential target for the treatment of cocaine abuse as well as be a significant hallmark of cognition and memory loss with cocaine.

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