Platelet monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity, a marker of central serotonergic capacity, has been associated with a variety of problem behaviours. However, studies on platelet MAO activity and addictive drugs have not consistently linked MAO activity with addiction or reported to predict illicit substance use initiation or frequency.
Platelet MAO activity and illicit drug use was examined in a longitudinal birth cohort study.
The sample included both birth cohorts (original n = 1238) of the Estonian Children Personality Behaviour and Health Study. Longitudinal association from age 15 to 25 years between platelet MAO activity and lifetime drug use was analysed by mixed-effects regression models. Differences at ages 15, 18 and 25 were analysed by t-test. Cox proportional hazard regression analysis was used to assess the association between platelet MAO activity and the age of drug use initiation.
Male subjects who reported at least one drug use event had lower platelet MAO activity compared to nonusers, both in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Males with low platelet MAO activity had started to use drugs at a younger age. Moreover, in male subjects who had experimented with illicit drugs only once in lifetime, low platelet MAO activity was also associated with higher risk at a younger age. In females, platelet MAO activity was not associated with drug use.
In males, low platelet MAO activity is associated with drug abuse primarily owing to risk-taking at early age.
Association between platelet MAO activity and lifetime drug use in a longitudinal birth cohort study
Sakala, K., Kasearu, K., Katus, U. et al.