Drug addiction is a psychiatric disorder for which no pharmacological treatment with long-term efficacy currently exists. All addictive substances share the property of raising concentrations of the neurotransmitter dopamine within brain regions forming the neural reward circuit.
This increase in dopamine levels results in long-lasting alteration of signal transmission that is dependent on another neurotransmitter, glutamate, which causes addictive behaviours. Through a new study, an international team including scientists from the CNRS, INRAE, the CEA, Sorbonne University, Paris-Saclay University, the University of Bordeaux, and Université Côte d'Azur has uncovered, in mice and humans, the molecular bases of this deleterious interplay between dopamine and glutamate.
The researchers' work shows that the inhibition of interactions between dopamine and glutamate receptors prevents pathological behaviors provoked by cocaine in mice, without altering natural reward processing. Their findings, published in Science Advances (20 October 2021), pave the way for the development of new therapeutic strategies to treat addiction, and a wider spectrum of psychiatric disorders.
Andrianarivelo, A., et al. (2021) Disrupting D1-NMDA or D2-NMDA receptor heteromerization prevents cocaine’s rewarding effects but preserves natural reward processing. Science Advances. doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abg5970.