alexa A neuropeptide-centric view of psychostimulant addiction.
Psychiatry

Psychiatry

Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy

Author(s): Boutrel B

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Abstract Drugs of abuse all share common properties classically observed in human beings and laboratory animals. They enhance neural firing and dopamine tone within the nucleus accumbens and produce progressively greater drug-induced motor responses defined as behavioural sensitization. They produce conditioned place preference, a behavioural model of incentive motivation, which highlights the role of environmental cues in drug addiction. They increase brain reward function as seen by a lowering of intracranial self-stimulation thresholds. And last but not least, they are self-administered, and sometimes even abused, and can trigger reinstatement of drug-seeking behaviour in animals extinguished from drug self-administration. It has long been considered that the reinforcing properties of virtually all drugs of abuse, more specifically psychostimulants, are primarily dependent on activation of the mesolimbic dopamine system. However, recent evidence raises the importance of dopamine-independent mechanisms in reward-related behaviours. The overwhelming body of evidence that indicates a critical role for the mesolimbic dopamine system in the reinforcing effect of psychostimulants should not mask the key contribution of other modulatory systems in the brain. This review summarizes the complex and subtle role of several neuropeptidergic systems in various aspects of addictive behaviours observed in laboratory animals exposed to psychostimulants. A special emphasis is given to the cannabinoid, opioid, nociceptin/orphanin FQ, corticotropin-releasing factor and hypocretin/orexin systems. The relevance of these systems viewed as potential therapeutic targets for drug addiction is discussed in the light of their narrow pharmacological profile and their effectiveness in preventing drug addiction at doses usually not accompanied by severe side effects.
This article was published in Br J Pharmacol and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy

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