Two related genes that help control signalling between brain cells may play an important role in cocaine addiction, says a study in the Aug. 5 issue of Neuron.
In research with mice, scientists found that deleting either of the two genes in the “Homer” family caused symptoms similar to those of cocaine withdrawal. The finding provides a new research target for trying to understand how both a genetic susceptibility to addiction and environmental factors cause addiction.
The study found the Homer1 and Homer2 genes appear to be specific for cocaine. When the researchers tested the effects of caffeine and heroin on mice that lacked the Homer genes, the rodents’ behavioral responses weren’t the same as they were 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,” the study authors wrote.
Source:Published in Aug edition of Neuron reported in Health Day News, Aug. 4 2004