Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New mechanism underlying cocaine addiction discovered

Date:
January 7, 2010
Source:
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse
Summary:
Researchers have identified a key epigenetic mechanism in the brain that helps explain cocaine's addictiveness.

Researchers have identified a key epigenetic mechanism in the brain that helps explain cocaine's addictiveness, according to research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Related Articles


The study, published in the January issue of the journal Science, shows how cocaine affects an epigenetic process (a process capable of influencing gene expression without changing a gene's sequence) called histone methylation. These epigenetic changes in the brain's pleasure circuits, which are also the first impacted by chronic cocaine exposure, likely contribute to an acquired preference for cocaine.

"This fundamental discovery advances our understanding of how cocaine addiction works," said NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "Although more research will be required, these findings have identified a key new player in the molecular cascade triggered by repeated cocaine exposure, and thus a potential novel target for the development of addiction medications."

Researchers gave one group of young mice repeated doses of cocaine and another group repeated doses of saline with a final dose of cocaine to determine how the effects of chronic cocaine exposure differed from one-time exposure. The study confirms that one of the mechanisms by which cocaine alters the reward pathway is by repressing G9A, a histone demethylating enzyme that plays a critical role in epigenetic control of gene expression.

As previously observed, animals exposed to chronic cocaine displayed dramatic alterations in gene expression as well as a strong preference for cocaine. For the first time, the authors were also able to show that by experimentally reversing the cocaine induced repression of G9a, they could block the changes in gene expression and inhibit the enhanced preference for cocaine.

"The more complete picture that we have today of the genetic and epigenetic processes triggered by chronic cocaine give us a better understanding of the broader principles governing biochemical regulation in the brain which will help us identify not only additional pathways involved but potentially new therapeutic approaches," said Dr. Eric J. Nestler, study investigator and director of the Brain Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse. "New mechanism underlying cocaine addiction discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100107143900.htm>.
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010, January 7). New mechanism underlying cocaine addiction discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100107143900.htm
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse. "New mechanism underlying cocaine addiction discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100107143900.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. 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