Navigation Links
Chronic cocaine use triggers changes in brain's neuron structure

Buffalo, N.Y. Chronic exposure to cocaine reduces the expression of a protein known to regulate brain plasticity, according to new, in vivo research on the molecular basis of cocaine addiction. That reduction drives structural changes in the brain, which produce greater sensitivity to the rewarding effects of cocaine.

The finding suggests a potential new target for development of a treatment for cocaine addiction. It was published last month in Nature Neuroscience by researchers at the University at Buffalo and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

"We found that chronic cocaine exposure in mice led to a decrease in this protein's signaling," says David Dietz, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, who did the work while at Mt. Sinai. "The reduction of the expression of the protein, called Rac1, then set in motion a cascade of events involved in structural plasticity of the brain -- the shape and growth of neuronal processes in the brain. Among the most important of these events is the large increase in the number of physical protrusions or spines that grow out from the neurons in the reward center of the brain.

"This suggests that Rac1 may control how exposure to drugs of abuse, like cocaine, may rewire the brain in a way that makes an individual more susceptible to the addicted state," says Dietz. A photo of Dietz is at

The presence of the spines demonstrates the spike in the reward effect that the individual obtains from exposure to cocaine. By changing the level of expression of Rac1, Dietz and his colleagues were able to control whether or not the mice became addicted, by preventing enhancement of the brain's reward center due to cocaine exposure.

To do the experiment, Dietz and his colleagues used a novel tool, which allowed for light activation to control Rac1 expression, the first time that a light-activated protein has been used to modulate brain plasticity.

"We can now understand how proteins function in a very temporal pattern, so we could look at how regulating genes at a specific time point could affect behavior, such as drug addiction, or a disease state," says Dietz.

In his UB lab, Dietz is continuing his research on the relationship between behavior and brain plasticity, looking, for example, at how plasticity might determine how much of a drug an animal takes and how persistent the animal is in trying to get the drug.


Contact: Ellen Goldbaum
University at Buffalo

Related medicine news :

1. Adjusting Your Attitude About Chronic Pain May Help You Sleep
2. Chronicling pink slimes fall from grace
3. Study suggests new way to treat chronic pain
4. Alternative Medicine May Help Ease Chronic Sinusitis
5. Study determines critical skills for PCPs to safely manage opioid risk in chronic pain patients
6. Where pain lives: Managing chronic pain tougher in poor neighborhoods
7. Web-Based Therapy May Help Teens With Chronic Fatigue
8. Smog Tied to Raised Risk of Chronic Illness in Black Women
9. Chronic Heartburn a Growing Problem in U.S.
10. Journal Retracts Faulty Chronic Fatigue Study
11. Chronic School Absenteeism Linked to Mental Health Problems
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Chronic cocaine use triggers changes in brain's neuron structure
(Date:10/13/2017)... , ... October 13, 2017 , ... As health professionals ... known as “patient engagement.” The patient is doing more than filling out a survey; ... , “There is an increasing emphasis in health care and research on the importance ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Southern ... and Jennifer Huggins, PharmD ’17, along with clinical associate professor Janice Frueh, ... cardiovascular diseases during the 15th Annual Women’s Health Conference. The SIU School ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Ellevate Network, the ... business to advocate for action towards gender equality at their inaugural Summit in New ... the globe, and reached a social audience of over 3 million. To watch the ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... “The Journey: From the Mountains to the Mission ... lost souls in the Philippines. “The Journey: From the Mountains to the Mission Field” ... the Bible. She has taught all ages and currently teaches a class of ladies ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... 12, 2017 , ... The company has developed a suite ... regulatory authorities worldwide. From Children’s to Adults 50+, every formula has been developed ... , These products are also: Gluten Free, Non-GMO, Vegan, Soy Free, Non-Dairy*, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/28/2017)... -- Cohen Veterans Bioscience and Early Signal Foundation announce ... home sensors for real-time monitoring of patients with trauma-related ... organization focused on disruptive health solutions for rare disorders ... to record and integrate behavioral, cognitive, physiological and contextual ... ...
(Date:9/25/2017)... 2017  EpiVax, Inc., a leader in the ... today announced the launch of EpiVax Oncology Inc., ... therapeutic cancer vaccines. EpiVax has provided $500,000 in ... enabling technologies to the new precision immunotherapy venture. ... Oncology as Chief Executive Officer. Gad brings over ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... 2017 HistoSonics, Inc., a venture-backed medical device company developing a non-invasive, robotically assisted, ... three leadership team developments today:   ... ... Tom Tefft ... Veteran medical device executive Josh Stopek , PhD, who has ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: