Assessment of brain activity changes in patients with former heroin dependency under methadone maintenance treatment, by using functional magnetic resonance imaging

Document Type: Systematic review

Author

Department of Radiology, Emam Reza Hospital, Mashhad University of Medical Science, Mashhad, Iran

Abstract

Introduction: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) has been successful in illustrating the brain function of patients addicted to different drugs. Methadone maintenance is proposed as the standard agonist substitution treatment for opiate dependent patients. In this study we aimed to systematically review all the MRI findings related to former heroin addicts under long term methadone maintenance therapy.
Method: PubMed was performed by the following search strategy: (methadone OR Dolophine) AND (MRI OR magnetic resonance imaging), with no language and date restrictions.
Results: Out of 56 articles found at the initial search, 5 articles were eligible to be included in the systematic review, which were published from 2008 – 2014. In all the included studies the effect of long term MTT in confronting with drug related cues was compared with healthy control individuals or neutral stimuli. One article studied the acute efficacy of methadone use and one article compared the effect of different durations of MTT on brain responses to drug related cues.
Conclusion: Different brain parts from prefrontal to deep limbic structures have been activated by drug related cues observation in patients under long term MMT. However methadone has shown the ability to inhibit the heroin craving and decreasing withdrawal symptoms, the learned brain response to drug stimuli persists despite long-term MMT

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