The sons of fathers who use cocaine may be less likely to become addicted to the drug themselves.
That's what a new study from researchers at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine suggests.
The researchers found that the sons of male rats on cocaine were both less likely to want cocaine and more resistant to the drug's addictive effects.
The same wasn't true for daughters. The researchers said the study suggests cocaine causes DNA alterations in sperm in which the changes are transmitted to males in the next generation.
"This adds to the growing body of evidence that cocaine abuse in a father rat can affect how his sons may respond to the drug -- and point to potential mechanisms that contribute to this phenomenon," lead researcher Mathieu Wimmer said in a statement.
Wimmer said more research is necessary to understand how the behavioral changes are passed on, and whether they are also true for humans.
For male rats whose fathers were on cocaine, certain neurons were less sensitive to the drug, the researchers found. That meant they didn't develop the same cravings or addiction.
The Penn researchers presented their findings at the Society for Neuroscience's annual conference, being held this week in San Diego.