Distribution and kinetics of carbon-11-cocaine in the human body measured with PET

N. D. Volkow, J. S. Fowler, A. P. Wolf, G. J. Wang, J. Logan, R. MacGregor, S. L. Dewey, D. Schlyer, R. Hitzemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The extent to which the toxic properties of cocaine are related to its accumulation in various organs is not known. This study investigates cocaine uptake in the human body using 11C-cocaine and PET in 14 healthy males. The rate of uptake and clearance of 11C-cocaine varied among organs; peak uptake occurred in the lungs at 45 sec, in the heart and kidneys at 2-3 min, in the adrenals at 7-9 min, and in the liver at 10-15 min. Half-peak clearances were 90 sec in the lungs, 10 min in the heart and kidneys and 22 min in the adrenals. Liver radioactivity plateaued 10-15 min after injection and remained constant thereafter (40 min). Lung radioactivity paralleled that of plasma. The average uptake at peak was 0.007% (s.d., 0.001) dose/cc in the heart, 0.014% (s.d., 0.002) dose/cc in the kidney, 0.014% (s.d., 0.002) dose/cc in the liver and 0.034% (s.d., 0.001) dose/cc in the adrenals. The significant accumulation of cocaine in human heart, kidneys, adrenals and liver could contribute to its toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-525
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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