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Sci. Signal., 29 June 2010
Vol. 3, Issue 128, p. ec201
[DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3128ec201]


Addiction Addicts Lose Plasticity

Peter R. Stern

Science, AAAS, Cambridge CB2 1LQ, UK

What are the biological mechanisms associated with the transition from occasional drug use to addiction? In rats, like in humans, even after a prolonged period of drug intake, only a limited number of animals develop addiction-like behavior despite the amount of drug taken by all subjects being the same. Kasanetz et al. compared the expression of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)–dependent long-term depression (NMDA-LTD) in the nucleus accumbens of addicted and nonaddicted rats. Initially, once drug self-administration had been learned and consolidated, but before the appearance of addiction-like behavior, LTD was suppressed in all animals independently of their vulnerability to addiction at a later stage. However, after 2 months, when addiction-like behavior appears, LTD was persistently lost in the addicted animals. In contrast, normal NMDA-LTD reappeared in animals that maintained a controlled drug intake without becoming addicted.

F. Kasanetz, V. Deroche-Gamonet, N. Berson, E. Balado, M. Lafourcade, O. Manzoni, P. V. Piazza, Transition to addiction is associated with a persistent impairment in synaptic plasticity. Science 328, 1709–1712 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]

Citation: P. R. Stern, Addicts Lose Plasticity. Sci. Signal. 3, ec201 (2010).

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