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Aberrant Disgust Responses and Immune Reactivity in Cocaine-Dependent Men

Ersche, Karen D. and Hagan, Cindy C. and Smith, Dana G. and Abbott, Sanja and Jones, P. Simon and Apergis-Schoute, Annemieke M. and Döffinger, Rainer (2014) Aberrant Disgust Responses and Immune Reactivity in Cocaine-Dependent Men. Biological Psychiatry, 75 (2). pp. 140-147. ISSN 0006-3223. PMCID PMC3898808. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.08.004.

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Background: Infectious diseases are the most common and cost-intensive health complications associated with drug addiction. There is wide belief that drug-dependent individuals expose themselves more regularly to disease-related pathogens through risky behaviors such as sharing pipes and needles, thereby increasing their risk for contracting an infectious disease. However, evidence is emerging indicating that not only lifestyle but also the immunomodulatory effects of addictive drugs, such as cocaine, may account for their high infection risk. As feelings of disgust are thought to be an important psychological mechanism in avoiding the exposure to pathogens, we sought to investigate behavioral, physiological, and immune responses to disgust-evoking cues in both cocaine-dependent and healthy men. Methods: All participants (N = 61) were exposed to neutral and disgust-evoking photographs depicting food and nonfood images while response accuracy, latency, and skin conductivity were recorded. Saliva samples were collected before and after exposure to neutral and disgusting images, respectively. Attitudes toward disgust and hygiene behaviors were assessed using questionnaire measures. Results: Response times to disgust-evoking photographs were prolonged in all participants, and specifically in cocaine-dependent individuals. While viewing the disgusting images, cocaine-dependent individuals exhibited aberrant skin conductivity and increased the secretion of the salivary cytokine interleukin-6 relative to control participants. Conclusion: Our data provide evidence of a hypersensitivity to disgusting stimuli in cocaine-dependent individuals, possibly reflecting conditioned responses to noningestive sources of infection. Coupled with a lack of interoception of bodily signals, aberrant disgust responses might lead to increased infection susceptibility in affected individuals.

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Hagan, Cindy C.0000-0002-4576-7120
Additional Information:© 2014 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Under a Creative Commons license (Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)) Received 29 May 2013, Revised 29 July 2013, Accepted 1 August 2013, Available online 3 October 2013. This work was funded by a research grant from the Medical Research Council (G0701497) and supported by the infrastructure of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (which is supported by a joint award from the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust). This study was jointly sponsored by the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cambridge. K.D. Ersche, C.C. Hagan, and P.S. Jones are supported by the Medical Research Council. D.G. Smith is supported by a studentship from the Cambridge Overseas Trust and A.M. Apergis-Schoute by the Welcome Trust. R. Döffinger is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre. We thank all participants for their contributions to this study, staff at the NIHR Mental Health Research Network for their support with volunteer recruitment, and staff at the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility at Addenbrooke’s Hospital for their dedicated support throughout the study. A special word of thanks goes to Heather Agyepong and Elisabeth Kent for their assistance with data collection. The authors thank Keith Burling and Peter Barker at the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, Core Biochemical Assay Laboratory for the salivary analyses, Dr. Martin Curran at the Clinical Microbiology and Public Health Laboratory at Addenbrooke’s Hospital for the virology analyses of the urine samples, and Amy Munro and Graham Wood at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Immunology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital for the analysis of CRP levels in blood serum. The authors declare no biomedical financial interests or potential conflicts of interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Medical Research Council (UK)G0701497
University of CambridgeUNSPECIFIED
Cambridge Overseas TrustUNSPECIFIED
National Institute for Health ResearchUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Conditioned immunoactivation; cytokines; drug addiction; interleukin (IL)-6; infection susceptibility; interoception
Issue or Number:2
PubMed Central ID:PMC3898808
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200225-135944878
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Official Citation:Karen D. Ersche, Cindy C. Hagan, Dana G. Smith, Sanja Abbott, P. Simon Jones, Annemieke M. Apergis-Schoute, Rainer Döffinger, Aberrant Disgust Responses and Immune Reactivity in Cocaine-Dependent Men, Biological Psychiatry, Volume 75, Issue 2, 2014, Pages 140-147, ISSN 0006-3223,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:101559
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:26 Feb 2020 16:07
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:03

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