Neurobiology: Rat Study Sheds Light on Cocaine Craving

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Science  15 Mar 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5255, pp. 1499
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5255.1499


To a cocaine addict, a small dose of the drug is bad news: It “primes” the brain's reward system, intensifying the craving for more cocaine. Now a team of researchers at Yale University reports in this issue of Science (p. 1586) that in rats, this craving appears to be associated with activation of one class of receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine, called D2-like receptors. Activation of a second class of dopamine receptors, D1-like receptors, appears to reduce craving for the drug. If the same effect applied to humans, compounds that selectively activate D1-like receptors might be useful in preventing relapse of drug use in cocaine-dependent people.