New research finds that patients with cocaine use disorder experience changes in gene expression among two brain regions: the nucleus accumbens and the caudate nucleus.
The study was published in Science Advances by experts at Mount Sinai.
“Cocaine increases the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine at synapses, or junctions between two brain cells where electrical signals are converted into chemical signals,” the authors of the study explained in a news release. “By doing so, the research team found, cocaine sets off a cascade of events that activate a chemical messenger in the brain called cyclic AMP, which then triggers changes in gene expression.”
“Our research team looked at studies performed in mice that were given the opportunity to self-administer cocaine and compared the resulting molecular changes to those seen in postmortem brain tissue of people with cocaine use disorder.”
Researchers added: “Our analysis revealed strikingly similar changes in the brain’s gene expression profiles in both the mice and humans, validating the use of mouse models to study the pathophysiological basis of cocaine use disorder.”
The authors concluded that the findings are evidence of considerable advancement in the comprehension of molecular abnormalities in cocaine use disorder. Its findings also merit further research.