Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene Therapy For Addiction: Flooding Brain With 'Pleasure Chemical' Receptors Works On Cocaine, As On Alcohol

Date:
April 18, 2008
Source:
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Summary:
Increasing the brain level of receptors for dopamine, a pleasure-related chemical, can reduce use of cocaine by 75 percent in rats trained to self-administer it. Earlier research had similar findings for alcohol intake. Treatments that increase levels of these chemicals -- dopamine D2 receptors -- may prove useful in treating addiction.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have shown that increasing the brain level of receptors for dopamine, a pleasure-related chemical, can reduce use of cocaine by 75 percent in rats trained to self-administer it. Earlier research by this team had similar findings for alcohol intake. Treatments that increase levels of these chemicals - dopamine D2 receptors -- may prove useful in treating addiction, according to the authors.

Related Articles


"By increasing dopamine D2 receptor levels, we saw a dramatic drop in these rats' interest in cocaine," said lead author Panayotis (Peter) Thanos, a neuroscientist with Brookhaven Lab and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Laboratory of Neuroimaging. "This provides new evidence that low levels of dopamine D2 receptors may play an important role in not just alcoholism but in cocaine abuse as well. It also shows a potential direction for addiction therapies."

The D2 receptor receives signals in the brain triggered by dopamine, a neurotransmitter needed to experience feelings of pleasure and reward. Without receptors for dopamine, these signals get "jammed" and the pleasure response is blunted. Previous studies at Brookhaven Lab have shown that chronic abuse of alcohol and other addictive drugs increases the brain's production of dopamine. Over time, however, these drugs deplete the brain's D2 receptors and rewire the brain so that normal pleasurable activities that stimulate these pathways no longer do - leaving the addictive drug as the only way to achieve this stimulation.

The current study suggests that cocaine-dependent individuals may have their need for cocaine decreased if their D2 levels are boosted. Thanos' lab previously demonstrated dramatic reductions in alcohol use in alcohol-preferring rats infused with dopamine D2 receptors. Thanos hypothesized that the same would hold true with other addictive drugs.

The researchers tested this hypothesis by injecting a virus that had been rendered harmless and altered to carry the D2 receptor gene directly into the brains of experimental rats that were trained to self-administer cocaine -- the same technique used in the earlier alcohol study. The virus acted as a mechanism to deliver the gene to the nucleus accumbens, the brain's pleasure center, enabling the cells in this brain region to make receptor proteins themselves.

The scientists examined how the injected genes affected the rats' cocaine-using behavior after they had been taking cocaine for two weeks. After receiving the D2 receptor treatment, the rats showed a 75 percent decrease in self-administration of the drug. This effect lasted six days before their cocaine self-administration returned to previous levels.

"This adds another piece to the puzzle of the complex role of dopamine D2 receptors in addiction," said Thanos.

The study will be published online April 16 and will appear in the July 2008 issue of Synapse.

This research was funded by The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Intramural Research Program at the National Institutes of Health and by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science. DOE has a long-standing interest in research on brain chemistry gained through brain-imaging studies. Brain-imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are a direct outgrowth of DOE's support of basic physics and chemistry research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. "Gene Therapy For Addiction: Flooding Brain With 'Pleasure Chemical' Receptors Works On Cocaine, As On Alcohol." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416081628.htm>.
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. (2008, April 18). Gene Therapy For Addiction: Flooding Brain With 'Pleasure Chemical' Receptors Works On Cocaine, As On Alcohol. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416081628.htm
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory. "Gene Therapy For Addiction: Flooding Brain With 'Pleasure Chemical' Receptors Works On Cocaine, As On Alcohol." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416081628.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins