Effects of Citicoline on Brain Function and Behavior in Marijuana-Dependent Individuals

This study is currently recruiting participants. (see Contacts and Locations)
Verified November 2012 by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Scott E Lukas, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier:
First received: September 8, 2005
Last updated: November 13, 2012
Last verified: November 2012

September 8, 2005
November 13, 2012
September 2005
August 2014   (final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Marijuana use (measured at Week 1 to 4) [ Time Frame: Measured at weeks 1 and 4 of treatment ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
Marihuana use measured at weeks 1-4
Complete list of historical versions of study NCT00158249 on ClinicalTrials.gov Archive Site
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Effects of Citicoline on Brain Function and Behavior in Marijuana-Dependent Individuals
Cannabis Dependence: Imaging and Medication Development - 1

The Three Aims of this study are:

  1. Measure the impact of citicoline on marihuana use patterns in subjects' individualized natural settings and responses to marihuana challenge using functional brain MRI scans.

    Hypothesis - 2 g/day citicoline will produce greater reductions in marihuana use and craving in heavy marihuana users than placebo citicoline over a 4-week treatment period as measured in their natural environments. The same participants will experience greater increases in brain activation in response to both marihuana challenge and placebo marihuana during weeks 2 and 4 of the citicoline treatment period compared to placebo-citicoline treated participants.

  2. Measure the effects of citicoline on marihuana absorption and metabolism and determine if these changes parallel changes in subjective and physiological responses in a laboratory setting.

    Hypothesis - Chronic (4 weeks) treatment with 2 g/day citicoline will produce increases in subjective and physiological effects of both acute marihuana smoking and placebo marihuana smoking compared to chronic placebo citicoline. Citicoline will have no effect on marihuana pharmacokinetics.

  3. Measure the effects of citicoline on marijuana-induced cue-induced craving and brain electrical activity (EEG).

Hypothesis - Chronic (4 weeks) treatment with 2 g/day citicoline will reduce objective measures of marijuana cue-reactivity, and subjective reports of craving in response to marihuana cues will also be attenuated compared to chronic placebo citicoline treatment.

Marijuana dependence is an important public health problem in the United States, yet still no effective therapies are available. It is unclear how marijuana affects brain function after acute or chronic use. Knowing about the changes in brain function during marijuana dependence would aid in the understanding of the neurobiological basis of marijuana abuse and serve as a foundation for the development of new treatment medications for this disorder. New and improved brain imaging techniques, such as functional MRI (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), allow the viewing of these subtle, yet important, changes in brain function.

Citicoline is used to treat victims of head trauma and neurodegenerative disorders. It has been found to be effective in reducing cocaine use and craving, and it has no known side effects. It has also been shown to reduce marijuana use. This is likely due to citicoline's ability to reduce insomnia and craving, act as a mild antidepressant, and improve cognitive function. How citicoline reduces drug use may be related to effects on cerebral blood flow and/or brain phospholipid metabolism in the reward areas of the brain.

This study will determine whether citicoline alters marijuana use patterns, reduces craving, and affects brain phospholipids and metabolism in marijuana-dependent people. The outcome of the study could offer important insights into the pathophysiology and course of marijuana dependence. Furthermore, this study's outcome could potentially relate to other drug dependence disorders.

Phase 2
Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Marijuana Abuse
  • Drug: citicoline
    2 gm/day, 4 weeks treatment
  • Drug: placebo
    matched for physical appearance
  • Placebo Comparator: placebo
    matched capsules
    Intervention: Drug: placebo
  • Experimental: citicoline
    2 gm/day
    • Drug: citicoline
    • Drug: placebo
Bracken BK, Penetar DM, Rodolico J, Ryan ET, Lukas SE. Eight weeks of citicoline treatment does not perturb sleep/wake cycles in cocaine-dependent adults. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2011 Jun;98(4):518-24. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2011.03.003. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

*   Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier (NCT Number) in Medline.
August 2014
August 2014   (final data collection date for primary outcome measure)

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Meets DSM-IV criteria for current marijuana dependence
  • Women with a negative pregnancy test prior to study entry
  • Heavy smoker, defined as smoking more than 10 joints per week

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Medical disorder that requires prescription medication
  • Psychiatric disorder that requires prescription medication
  • Abnormal liver function tests
  • Taking herbal preparations
  • Taking any over-the-counter medications on a chronic basis
  • Pregnancy or breast feeding
  • Neurological, infectious, or neoplastic disease
  • Currently seeking treatment for marijuana abuse
  • Meets criteria for alcohol, cocaine, or opioid dependence
18 Years to 50 Years
United States
NIDA-19238-1, R01DA019238, DPMC, R01DA024007
Not Provided
Scott E Lukas, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Not Provided
Principal Investigator: Scott E. Lukas, PhD Mclean Hospital
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
November 2012

ICMJE     Data element required by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and the World Health Organization ICTRP