Regulation of Cocaine Reward by CREB

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Science  18 Dec 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5397, pp. 2272-2275
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5397.2272


Cocaine regulates the transcription factor CREB (adenosine 3′,5′-monophosphate response element binding protein) in rat nucleus accumbens, a brain region that is important for addiction. Overexpression of CREB in this region decreases the rewarding effects of cocaine and makes low doses of the drug aversive. Conversely, overexpression of a dominant-negative mutant CREB increases the rewarding effects of cocaine. Altered transcription of dynorphin likely contributes to these effects: Its expression is increased by overexpression of CREB and decreased by overexpression of mutant CREB. Moreover, blockade of κ opioid receptors (on which dynorphin acts) antagonizes the negative effect of CREB on cocaine reward. These results identify an intracellular cascade—culminating in gene expression—through which exposure to cocaine modifies subsequent responsiveness to the drug.

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