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Cocaine Use May Decrease Addiction in Male Offspring

New study shows it's possible for a drug-using dad to shape his son's resistance.


Looking to self-administer cocaine
Photo via Shutterstock

By Shawn Dwyer


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While dad’s cocaine use might not win him any Father of the Year awards, it might actually lead his son to become more resistant to addiction.

A study conducted on male lab rats by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that the male offspring of using fathers showed reduced signs of addicted behavior as compared to rats sired by non-using fathers. Male rats born from fathers that received two months worth of self-administered cocaine did not show an escalation of frenzied movements – which has been seen as a sign of addiction – when drugged themselves. But the offspring of non-using fathers did display frenzied movements, leading to the conclusion that fathers that did use cocaine passed along a resistance to their sons. The findings did not apply to female offspring.

What does this mean for humans? Not much at the moment. But because the rat offspring of using fathers did not display a remodeling of AMPA receptors – which is necessary for developing addiction and cravings – the findings may prompt further examination into whether or not we can actually shape another generation’s physiology through our own activities.

The study was presented by Mathieu Wimmer and R. Christopher Pierce on November 11, 2013 at the Society for Neuroscience’s Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.

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