Despite what most people assume, the children of cocaine users are actually LESS likely to develop a habit of the nose candy themselves, according to new research.
Scientists looked at the offspring of cocaine-addicted male rats in order to assess the effect the addiction of their fathers had on them.
The researchers discovered that sons of male rats who are exposed to cocaine become resistant to the rewarding “highs” of the drug.
These findings suggest that the children of cocaine users have undergone physiological changes to protect them from the addiction.
“We know that genetic factors contribute significantly to the risk of cocaine abuse,” said Christopher Pierce, the study’s lead author and associate professor of Neuroscience in Psychiatry at Pennsylvania University.
“But the potential role of epigenetic influences – how the expression of certain genes related to addiction is controlled – is still relatively unknown.
“This study is the first to show that the chemical effects of cocaine use can be passed down to future generations to cause a resistance to addictive behavior, indicating that paternal exposure to toxins such as cocaine can have profound effects on gene expression and behavior in their offspring.”
The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, used an animal model to study inherited effects of cocaine abuse.
The male rats were given cocaine for 60 days and then mated with females that had never been exposed to the drug.
To eliminate any influence that the males’ behavior would have on the pregnant females, they were separated directly after they mated.
Male offspring of the rats made significantly less of an effort to get a dose of the drug than female offspring, suggesting that the effect is only in sons and not daughters.
“We were quite surprised that the male offspring of sires that used cocaine didn’t like cocaine as much,” said Professor Pierce.
“While we identified one change in the brain that appears to underlie this cocaine resistance effect, there are undoubtedly other physiological changes as well and we are currently performing more broad experiments to identify them.
“We also are eager to perform similar studies with more widely used drugs of abuse such as nicotine and alcohol.”
The findings suggest cocaine use causes epigenetic changes in sperm, reprogramming the information transmitted between generations.
So cocaine users: may your first child be a masculine one.
Jordan Shepherd | Elite.