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Mol Neurobiol. 2015 Apr;51(2):696-717. doi: 10.1007/s12035-014-8776-8. Epub 2014 Jun 18.

Transcriptional and epigenetic substrates of methamphetamine addiction and withdrawal: evidence from a long-access self-administration model in the rat.

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Molecular Neuropsychiatry Research Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, DHHS, 251 Bayview Boulevard, Baltimore, MD, 21224, USA,


Methamphetamine use disorder is a chronic neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by recurrent binge episodes, intervals of abstinence, and relapses to drug use. Humans addicted to methamphetamine experience various degrees of cognitive deficits and other neurological abnormalities that complicate their activities of daily living and their participation in treatment programs. Importantly, models of methamphetamine addiction in rodents have shown that animals will readily learn to give themselves methamphetamine. Rats also accelerate their intake over time. Microarray studies have also shown that methamphetamine taking is associated with major transcriptional changes in the striatum measured within a short or longer time after cessation of drug taking. After a 2-h withdrawal time, there was increased expression of genes that participate in transcription regulation. These included cyclic AMP response element binding (CREB), ETS domain-containing protein (ELK1), and members of the FOS family of transcription factors. Other genes of interest include brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), tyrosine kinase receptor, type 2 (TrkB), and synaptophysin. Methamphetamine-induced transcription was found to be regulated via phosphorylated CREB-dependent events. After a 30-day withdrawal from methamphetamine self-administration, however, there was mostly decreased expression of transcription factors including junD. There was also downregulation of genes whose protein products are constituents of chromatin-remodeling complexes. Altogether, these genome-wide results show that methamphetamine abuse might be associated with altered regulation of a diversity of gene networks that impact cellular and synaptic functions. These transcriptional changes might serve as triggers for the neuropsychiatric presentations of humans who abuse this drug. Better understanding of the way that gene products interact to cause methamphetamine addiction will help to develop better pharmacological treatment of methamphetamine addicts.

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