Chronic cocaine and alcohol use impart significant stress on biological and cognitive systems, resulting in changes consistent with an allostatic load model of neurocognitive impairment. The present study measured potential markers of allostatic load in individuals with comorbid cocaine/alcohol use disorders (CUD/AUD) and control subjects. Measures of brain white matter (WM), telomere length, and impulsivity/attentional bias were obtained. WM (CUD/AUD only) was indexed by diffusion tensor imaging metrics, including radial diffusivity (RD) and fractional anisotropy (FA). Telomere length was indexed by the telomere to single copy gene (T/S) ratio. Impulsivity and attentional bias to drug cues were measured via eye-tracking, and were also modeled using the Hierarchical Diffusion Drift Model (HDDM). Average whole-brain RD and FA were associated with years of cocaine use (R2 = 0.56 and 0.51, both p < .005) but not years of alcohol use. CUD/AUD subjects showed more anti-saccade errors (p < .01), greater attentional bias scores (p < .001), and higher HDDM drift rates on cocaine-cue trials (Bayesian probability CUD/AUD > control = p > 0.99). Telomere length was shorter in CUD/AUD, but the difference was not statistically significant. Within the CUD/AUD group, exploratory regression using an elastic-net model determined that more years of cocaine use, older age, larger HDDM drift rate differences and shorter telomere length were all predictive of WM as measured by RD (model R2 = 0.79). Collectively, the results provide modest support linking CUD/AUD to putative markers of allostatic load.
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