A team of researchers led by scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Intramural Research Program has made a major advance in understanding the molecular basis of how cocaine produces its characteristic high, suggesting new targets for developing anti-addiction medicines. The findings, published in the April 24 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, show that inactivating both the serotonin and dopamine transporters in the brains of mice dramatically reduces their experience of cocaine’s rewarding, pleasurable effects. It has been known for some time that cocaine use affects the brain’s dopamine system, but also that manipulating dopamine does not fully control cocaine’s effects. Thus this study shows the critical importance of the serotonin system as well as the dopamine system in mediating cocaine’s pleasurable effects. "Currently, there is no medication that effectively blocks the brain’s reward response to cocaine or that substantially relieves cocaine addiction, " says NIDA director Dr. Alan I. Leshner. "The finding that serotonin as well as dopamine plays a critical role in the development of cocaine addiction suggests a new biological target and approaches for developing such medications."
The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute On Drug Abuse. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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