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Sci STKE. 2005 Nov 8;2005(309):re14.

The "ups and downs" of signaling cascades in addiction.

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Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, University of California San Francisco, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA.


Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive drug use despite the severe negative consequences associated with it. Repeated exposure to drugs of abuse results in molecular adaptations in neuronal signaling pathways, which eventually manifest in the complex behavioral alterations that characterize addiction. These include tolerance, sensitization, dependence, drug craving, and relapse. In this Review, we focus on recent studies highlighting signaling cascades initiated by cocaine, as a representative of a drug of abuse with a defined site of action, and alcohol, as a drug with an undefined primary site of action. Specifically, we describe recent studies that emphasize the role of protein-protein interactions, phosphorylation, and compartmentalization in the molecular mechanisms that result in the cellular and behavioral adaptations that underlie addiction. Signaling cascades that contribute to addiction, as well as those that protect or delay the development of addiction, are presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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