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Genes may be central to cocaine addiction

since glutamate is known to be a key neurochemical in cocaine response.

Finally, the knockout animals could be restored to an essentially normal condition by reintroduction of the Homer2 gene.

The Homer genes appear to be specific for cocaine, found Kalivas and his colleagues. When they tested the effects of heroin or caffeine on the knockout mice, the animals did not respond behaviorally as they did with cocaine.

"While it can be anticipated that additional genetic models may be discovered that mimic or block behaviors associated with cocaine addiction, the striking concordant neurochemical phenotype between Homer2 deletion and withdrawal from chronic cocaine treatment indicates that Homer is a particularly good candidate to play a central role in cocaine addiction," wrote the researchers.

Since the Homer proteins are known to be regulated by cocaine and the proteins are known to rise or fall in response to environmental cues and distress "not only does Homer provide an important window to understand cocaine-induced neuroplasticity and addiction, but also to study the molecular basis of the important link between environmental stress and cocaine addiction," they wrote.


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Contact: Heidi Hardman
hhardman@cell.com
617-397-2879
Cell Press
4-Aug-2004


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