Insights into the Effects of Crack Abuse on the Human Metabolome Using a NMR Approach

Tássia B.B.C. Costa, Acioly L.T. Lacerda, Caroline Dal Mas, Elisa Brietzke, Joao G.M. Pontes, Lucas A.N. Marins, Lucas G. Martins, Marcel V. Nunes, Mariana Pedrini, Michelle S.C. Carvalho, Milan P. Mitrovitch, Mirian A.F. Hayashi, Natália L. Saldanha, Ronei J. Poppi, Ljubica Tasic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Contribution to Journal)peer-review

8 Scopus citations


Approximately 255 million people consume illicit drugs every year, among which 18 million use cocaine. A portion of this drug is represented by crack, but it is difficult to estimate the number of users since most are marginalized. However, there are no recognized efficacious pharmacotherapies for crack-cocaine dependence. Inflammation and infection in cocaine users may be due to behavior adopted in conjunction with drug-related changes in the brain. To understand the metabolic changes associated with the drug abuse disorder and identify biomarkers, we performed a 1 H NMR-based metabonomic analysis of 44 crack users' and 44 healthy volunteers' blood serum. The LDA model achieved 98% of accuracy. From the water suppressed 1 H NMR spectra analyses, it was observed that the relative concentration of lactate was higher in the crack group, while long chain fatty acid acylated carnitines were decreased, which was associated with their nutritional behavior. Analyses of the aromatic region of CPMG 1 H NMR spectra demonstrated histidine and tyrosine levels increased in the blood serum of crack users. The reduction of carnitine and acylcarnitines and the accumulation of histidine in the serum of the crack users suggest that histamine biosynthesis is compromised. The tyrosine level points to altered dopamine concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-348
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 4 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • H NMR
  • blood serum
  • cocaine
  • illicit drugs use
  • metabolomics
  • metabonomics


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