Epigenetics and psychostimulant addiction.
Chronic drug exposure alters gene expression in the brain and produces long-term changes in neural networks that underlie compulsive drug taking and seeking. Exactly how drug-induced changes in synaptic plasticity and subsequent gene expression are translated into persistent neuroadaptations remains unclear. Emerging evidence suggests that complex drug-induced neuroadaptations in the brain are mediated by highly synchronized and dynamic patterns of gene regulation. Recently, it has become clear that epigenetic mechanisms contribute to drug-induced structural, synaptic, and behavioral plasticity by regulating expression of gene networks. Here we review how alterations in histone modifications, DNA methylation, and microRNAs regulate gene expression and contribute to psychostimulant addiction with a focus on the epigenetic mechanisms that regulate brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression following chronic cocaine exposure. Identifying epigenetic signatures that define psychostimulant addiction may lead to novel, efficacious treatments for drug craving and relapse.
Schmidt, HD; McGinty, JF; West, AE; Sadri-Vakili, G
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